Twenty six unanswered second half points secured England Women an opening Six Nations win against France at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday night.
The Red Roses were forced to fight back from a 0-13 deficit at half time after France took a convincing lead with tries from Shannon Izar and Gaëlle Mignot as well as a penalty from Christelle le Duff.
However, the home side fought back as Danielle Waterman scored her 22nd Six Nations try in her 23rd appearance in the competition while Amy Wilson Hardy crossed three minutes from time on just her fourth international 15s start.
Emily Scarratt kicked 16 second-half points as England completed their fight back to seal their third win in a row over France.
France took the lead in the fourth minute when Izar intercepted and ran the length of the field to dive over.
They extended their lead after 28 minutes when le Duff knocked over a penalty from in front of the posts despite slipping on the point of contact, and they had their second try four minutes later when captain Mignot dived over from a rolling maul.
The Red Roses were camped on their opposition’s line for the final few minutes of the half but they could not convert their pressure into points. They then got themselves on the scoreboard four minutes after the break when Scarratt’s penalty attempt sailed through the posts.
Six minutes later they had their first try when the ball was sent wide to Waterman who showed her pace and strength to crash over in the corner, and Scarratt’s conversion from the touchline went over to reduce the gap to just three points.
On the hour mark England drew level as they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts that Scarratt duly converted.
The Red Roses took the lead for the first time in the match 12 minutes from time when Scarratt added another three points. The Lichfield centre stepped up again five minutes later to put England six points ahead, and the three points meant she passed the 150-point mark in the Six Nations.
In the closing stages Scarratt fed the ball out to Wilson Hardy who stepped inside the full back to score her second international try and put the Red Roses out of sight for a final whistle score of 26-13.
Head coach Simon Middleton said: “I’m absolutely thrilled with the second half performance, the composure the players showed to get back into the game like they did and dominate the second half. They played really smart and took on board exactly what we said at half time. It showed that they’re not only great rugby players technically but they’re also good at managing the game as well.”
England next travel to Cardiff Arms Park to take on Wales on Saturday 11 February, KO 11.30am. Looking ahead, Middleton added:
“We need to play for 80 minutes and not 40 going forward. We’ll have a really good look at our game ahead of Wales and see why things broke down in the first half. We’ll look at why it went right in the second half and improve on things that went well.”
England match-day 23 against France
15 Danielle Waterman (Bristol, 65 caps)
14 Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries, 28 caps, Scott (78))
13 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield, 62 caps)
12 Amber Reed (Bristol, 33 caps, Burford (58))
11 Amy Wilson Hardy (Bristol, 4 caps)
10 Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 81 caps)
9 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield, 34 caps, Mason (78))
1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester Valkyries, 118 caps, Lucas (63))
2 Amy Cokayne (Lichfield, 21 caps, Fleetwood (71))
3 Laura Keates (Worcester Valkyries, 57 caps, Bern (78))
4 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 99 caps)
5 Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield, 39 caps)
6 Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol, 25 caps, Cleall (58), Aldcroft (78))
7 Marlie Packer (Bristol, 41 caps)
8 Sarah Hunter (Bristol, 86 caps) (c)
16 Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens, 55 caps)
17 Justine Lucas (Lichfield, 15 caps)
18 Sarah Bern (Bristol, 5 caps)
19 Zoe Aldcroft (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 3 caps)
20 Poppy Cleall (Bristol, 8 caps)
21 La Toya Mason (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 60 caps)
22 Emily Scott (Saracens, 17 caps)
23 Rachael Burford (Aylesford Bulls, 61 caps)
England Women Six Nations fixtures
England 26 – 13 France
Tries: Waterman, Wilson Hardy
Conversions: Scarratt (2)
Penalties: Scarratt (4)
Wales v England
Saturday 11 February, KO 11.30am, live on Sky Sports 3
Cardiff Arms Park
England v Italy
Saturday 25 February, KO 1pm, live on Sky Sports 2
Tickets available here
England v Scotland
Saturday 11 March, KO 1pm, coverage delayed until 8pm on Sky Sports 2
Tickets available here
Ireland v England
Friday 17 March, KO 8pm, live on Sky Sports Mix
Donnybrook Stadium, Dublin
N.B. Channel information subject to change.
Report courtesy of England Rugby