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Sunday Apr 21, 2024

Six Nations Round Up: Spectacular finish incoming

England 88 – 10 Ireland


A late change to the England line-up saw Morwenna Talling drafted into the starting line-up in place of Rosie Galligan. Unsurprisingly though, England didn’t skip a beat and after only 6 minutes Abby Dow opened up their account for the afternoon with an easy finish from Alex Matthews’ offload. Mo Hunt followed three minutes later, it looked like Meg Jones would score a fantastic solo run, but the Irish defence managed to bring her down. The Red Roses quickly recycled the ball and Hunt made it look effortless.

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By the 13th minute Jones had her try and it began to look like it might be a long afternoon for Ireland. Zoe Aldcroft, who seemingly loves to score a try at Twickenham, added a lovely effort of her own, receiving a pass just inside Ireland’s half, putting her head down and finding the line.

Ireland, defending ferociously, were awarded a penalty in the 23rd minute. Danna O’Brien pointed to the posts, took the ball and effortlessly slotted it to give her team three points of their own.

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 20: Eve Higgins of Ireland in action during the Guinness Women’s Six Nations 2024 match between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium on April 20, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images)

The scoring continued, with Ellie Kildunne, whose mazy solo runs had been stopped time and again, getting on the end of a lovely team try, before the Red Roses were forced into an early substitution as Lark Atkin-Davies limped off the field to be replaced by Connie Powell. Dow closed out the first half on a high note with her second try.

The second half started as the first left off, with Jess Breach getting her name on the score sheet. Sadia Kabeya added a second, rolling and twisting at the line to get just enough space to ground the ball.

With 50 minutes on the clock Ireland scooped up an over-thrown England line out and threatened to score, stringing together phases and winning a scrum after an England knock-on. The Red Roses, with a fresh front row, were held in place and Aoife Wafer broke away but it wasn’t to be and the Red Roses turned the ball over.

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Slowly, inexorably, Ireland continued to push, winning a line out and rolling close to the line with their maul before it was pulled down and Lucy Packer yellow carded for England while Ireland were awarded a penalty try.

Of course that wouldn’t be it for the Red Roses, Jones adding her second after foxing her defender with a silky show-&-go. Dow hit her hat-trick with a barnstorming run down the right to put England more than 50 points clear with 15 minutes still to play. As Irish legs started to tire Kildunne capitalised, tearing between a pair of green shirts for her second try of the afternoon (and eighth of the tournament). Breach followed with a second of her own, determined – like all her teammates – to put on a show in rugby’s greatest theatre!

Kildunne added a third in the 74th minute, Maddie Feaunati scored her first Red Roses try and England won comfortably in a game that, despite the impressive scoreline for the hosts, managed to showcase the progression of both teams.

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 20: Marlie Packer of England acknowledges the fans the fans, whilst holding a bunch of Red Roses, as she celebrates victory after defeating Ireland during the Guinness Women’s Six Nations 2024 match between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium on April 20, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images)

Italy 10 – 17 Scotland

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A second-half rally in Parma gave Scotland their first Six Nations win over Italy, after entering half-time level on points.

Prior to kick off, you’d have been hard pressed to decide which team would leave victorious and the first half backed up that thought, with the first half hour seeing both teams build attacking opportunities that ultimately came to nothing. Scotland built on their strong set piece and some early handling jitters from the hosts, but as Italy found their rhythm they started to string together phases and, eventually it paid off as Ilaria Arrighetti took possession from a successful Italian lineout and hit the gain line, staying upright long enough for an impressive offload to Alyssa D’Inca. After scoring an impressive try on the wing last week the Azzurri deployed her at outside centre for this game and she responded with a perfect piece “right-place, right-time” opportunism, running at full pelt onto Arrighetti’s pass she burst through the Scottish line and wrong-footed Rhona Lloyd with a lovely step before scoring.

Barely two minutes later Scotland hit back, utilising set-piece power their line-out set up a rolling maul that barrelled across the Italian line leaving Lana Skeldon clear to place the ball, Helen Nelson to slot the ensuing conversion and the team to go into the break with honours even.

The second half started in similar manner to the first, but with the game heading into the final quarter, Lloyd looked set for a try to mark her 50th cap. It wasn’t to be as a well-timed tackle from Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi cleared out the GB7s winger, but Emma Orr, tracking her runner, swept in to snatch up the ball and put her team ahead. With momentum in their favour, Chloe Rollie added to their lead with a neat step of her own to slip past Beatrice Rigoni.

A Rigoni penalty brought Italy within seven, but despite a late flourish, they were unable to add to their total and Scotland took home the win, moved into third place in the table and can now begin to consider the prospect of playing in WXV 1 in the autumn.

Wales 0 – 40 France

An early yellow card for debutant Anne-Cecile Ciofani after head contact with Gwenllian Pyrs could have set the tone for this game, but as the bunker review returned a “low degree of danger “ verdict the French team came into their own with a lovely run of play that resulted in a try for Annaelle Deshayes who burst through the Welsh line and refused to be brought down.

A phenomenal intercept from French 7s star Joanna Grisez started with her heels inches in front of her own try line and ended up with no red shirts near her after a rapid run that Wales seemed so shocked by that they just stood and watched as it transpired.

Romane Menager added a third for France, and while Wales threatened when they were in possession, their support lines failed them time and again as players found nobody to hand off to in the tackle or their passes plucked out of the air by Les Bleus so the home team headed into half time with no points on the board.

It took only four minutes of the second half for France to lock in their bonus point, courtesy of the swashbuckling Gabrielle Vernier. Again Wales threatened but seemed unable to string phases together, twice a promising attack was snuffed out when the normally lethal Jasmine Joyce either turned into a tackle or fumbled her catch.

Manae Feleu extended the French lead, and on the 62nd minute they were once again reduced to 14 players, with tighthead prop Assie Khalfaoui sent for a ten-minute sit down. Wales used this time to give a sixth player their debut in this year’s tournament with Mollie Wilkinson stepping into inside centre for her first appearance as a Wales international.

As the clock ticked down it was clear that France already had their sights set on next week’s grand-slam decider, while Wales would be spending another week lamenting the chances that went astray. Nonetheless there was time for Grisez to add another try to her tally and Chloe Jacquet to give the French their third yellow card before Wales, rallying with the clock in the red, knocked on to close out the penultimate weekend of this year’s tournament.

Written by Matt Merritt.

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