November 10 2016
England Women head coach Simon Middleton paid tribute to his side for their clinical edge after their late try sealed victory over France in the opening match of the Old Mutual Wealth Series.
England Women and France Women compete in a scrum during the Old Mutual Wealth Series match - picture Empics
Middleton’s side had been level at 5-5 before a late penalty was kicked to the corner and resulting line-out was driven over France’s line.
Marlie Packer scored the decisive score and Middleton was pleased with his side’s character after a rusty first half."We showed fantastic execution with that killer blow."
England's Marlie Packer (hidden) celebrates scoring her sides second try - Picture Empics
“We showed fantastic execution with that killer blow,” said Middleton. “We’ve talked for a while about what being ruthless looks like and that was a great example of it. To get a penalty, kick to the corner and catch and drive and score a try to close the game out was fantastic.”
Amy Cokayne scored their first try in the opening 40 minutes and Middleton added: “We’re absolutely thrilled to get the win against last year’s Six Nations champions.
"It did have the feel of the first game of the season and players who hadn’t played against each other for a long time.
“But there was also evidence of players who wanted to win for England and dug in with some great goal-line defence when we were right up against it and we showed great character at the end.”
England will next face Ireland before they continue with the series against New Zealand and Canada.
Player of the match Alex Matthews also praised her side’s attitude and desire as despite conceding a 73rd-minute try to level the score at 5-5 they still kicked a late penalty to the corner rather than going for goal.
“We could have taken the easy points, but went for the line,” added Matthews. “It’s just the start. We’ve got a long year ahead but it’s good to get a win under our belt.”
It was also a momentous day for forward Rochelle Clark who matched Jason Leonard’s record for most international appearances for England with her 114th cap.
She described it as the “best feeling ever”, adding: “For me it was always about the next cap, rather than a number. “I just wanted to get on the pitch and make an impact and the girls were fantastic today.” “What an absolute legend Jason Leonard is. To have my name anywhere near him is amazing. Bring on next week.”
Old Mutual Wealth Series
England v France, Wednesday 9 November
10 - 5
Ireland v England, Sunday 13 November*
University College Dublin, KO 2pm
*Not part of Old Mutual Wealth Series
England v New Zealand, Saturday 19 November
Twickenham Stoop, KO 12pm
Tickets available here
England v Canada, Saturday 26 November
Twickenham, KO 5.05pm
FREE entry after the conclusion of the men’s game