England Women finished fourth in the Rugby Europe Women’s Grand Prix Series in Malemort, France on Sunday, losing 7-26 to Ireland in their final game.
Heather Fisher broke out of England’s half to put England 7-0 ahead first thanks to an Alice Richardson-Watmore conversion, but four unanswered Ireland tries left England with too much to do in their second of two clashes with the Women’s Rugby World Cup hosts over the course over the weekend.
In their semi-final, England lost out 15-24 to eventual winners Russia despite tries from Kelly Smith, Lotte Clapp and a full length run down the wing from Jo Richardson-Watmore.
England came out fighting on day two with a Fisher line out steal putting the side ahead in the quarter final against Wales. Two tries from Welsh speedster Jasmine Joyce, who alongside a number of the England team represented Team GB in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, left England with work to do. A break from Olivia Jones, which was then converted by Alice Richardson-Watmore, secured England’s place in the semi with the final score 12-10.
England began their weekend with a convincing 45-0 win over Portugal with tries from Holly Aitchison, Fisher, Clapp and doubles from seasoned sevens campaigner Jo Richardson-Watmore and debutante Jones.
They followed up with a hard fought 19-15 victory over Italy. First half tries from Millie Wood and Jo Richardson-Watmore put England ahead despite Italy going over on the whistle of half time. Two Italian tries in the second half were not enough to see off England with a converted try from Smith sealing the win.
However England were unable to make it three from three, finding Ireland too good in their final game of day one. Fisher put down for England but two Irish tries in the first half, quickly followed up by a third in the second, left England trailing. A final kick and chase by Natasha Brennan finished the game with a final score of 12 – 24.
England Women Sevens coach James Bailey said: “I’m very proud of the squad’s efforts this weekend. They’ve worked extremely hard on a number of areas of their game leading into this tournament which they put in place on the pitch.”
The two-part European series offers the final chance for two teams to earn places in the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco in July 2018. Of the top two placed teams this weekend, Russia have already qualified and runners up France look likely to earn their ticket through the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, meaning that England have made a positive start ahead of the final leg in Kazan, Russia on 8-9 July.
He added: “Fourth-placed finish puts us in a good position going into the final leg in Kazan next month. If we can put into place everything we’ve learnt this weekend, I’m confident of a good show from the squad then.”
England Women Sevens squad, Malemort
Natasha Brennan, Katie Mason, Alice Richardson-Watmore, Millie Wood, Olivia Jones, Deborah Fleming, Heather Fisher, Kelly Smith, Lotte Clapp, Jo Richardson-Watmore, Holly Aitchison, Chantelle Miell
Third Placed Final
England 7 – 26 Ireland
Conversion: A Richardson-Watmore
Cup Semi Finals
England 15 – 24 Russia
Tries: Smith, Clapp, J Richardson-Watmore
Cup Quarter Finals
England 12 – 10 Wales
Tries: Fisher, Jones
Conversions: A Richardson-Watmore
Results Pool C
England 45 – 0 Portugal
Tries: Aitchison, Fisher, Clapp, J Richardson-Watmore (2), Jones (2)
Conversions: A Richardson-Watmore (4), Aitchison
England 19 – 15 Italy
Tries: Wood, J Richardson-Watmore, Smith
Conversions: A Richardson-Watmore (2)
England 12 – 24 Ireland
Tries: Fisher, Brennan
You can see all the rest of the results from Rugby Europe Grand Prix Series in Malemort here.
Report courtesy of England Rugby.