England was crowned the Women’s U20 Nations Cup Champion today after beating the USA in a fairly one-sided match in Santa Barbara, Calif. The end result was 48-11 to the Roses.
|Mackenzie Lewis and the Eagles couldn't overcome a determined England side in the Nations Cup decider.|
England used a very forward-oriented game plan and even though the USA was strong in the scrums and lineouts, the Roses used their pack to suck in defenders in open play before spinning the ball out to their backs to score the tries.
The Eagles started the first half by kicking off and almost immediately England threatened the American line, but the fullback knocked the ball on to end the move. The ref had been holding advantage to England for USA being offsides multiple times so instead of a scrum to the Eagles, England was awarded the penalty and opted to kick for touch. The Roses won the lineout used their forwards to inch close to the try zone. Eventually the ball found its way to left winger Rebecca Hughes who touched down for England’s first try of the match.
After that everything went England’s way in the first half, with the roses racking up a 31-0 lead. Tensions were running high and the ref had to talk to both captains as there was some scuffling going on right before half time, but both teams kept their heads as the half came to a close.
After a halftime break where the Fallbrook women’s squad was presented with their trophy for winning the high school championship back in May, the Eagles picked it up, showing more determination and heart than they had in the first half.
Right off the whistle the USA was awarded a scrum at center field when the England kick off failed to travel 10 meters. The scrum was stolen by England and proceeded to drive down field using flat balls to the charging forwards. The Eagles’ Jacie Vonada made a crunching tackle near the touchline but the Roses kept the ball in play and Hannah Gallagher charged over the line from 20 meters out. Several USA players attempted to hold the ball up but the ref ruled a try to England, which went unconverted to bring the score to 36-0.
The Roses showed some hard-nosed defense on the next possession to repeatedly push the USA ball carriers back and win a turnover in a ruck, but England made a rare mistake by kicking to touch outside of their 22-meter line, awarding the Eagles a lineout deep in the opposing half. USA won the lineout and was pushed into touch, but stole England’s throw on the next lineout. The ref called it back for the Eagles going up early and England could have mounted another attack had they not held on to the ball in a ruck. USA chose to kick for points and put their first score on the board with a successful penalty kick by Amelia Bizer.
After back-and-forth play, England had a few chances to score that came to nothing due to knock ons and stand-up USA defense. The Roses finally capitalized on an opportunity off a scrum, when the ball found its way to Hughes who went over for her second try. The conversion missed and the score stood at 41-3 with little more than 20 minutes to go in the match.
After failed box kicks and switch moves, the Eagles scored another three points through a penalty kick when England was called for entering in the side of a ruck.
The Eagles’ hard work in the scrums started to unsettle the England pack, who were called several times for driving too early. The USA scored their one try when Mackenzie Lewis chipped a kick over the England defense and Amy Naber collected the ball to run in the try with two minutes remaining. Bizer’s conversion was off, making the score 41-11.
The Roses had one more try left in them though, when they took a quick tap with no time remaining and the outside center made a good run before dumping the ball off to a support runner to score. The conversion sailed between the posts, sealing the deal and granting England its fourth win of the tournament and the 2011 Women’s U20 Nations Cup trophy.
Despite the outcome, Eagles Coach Bryn Chivers was immensely proud of his team. “It was nice that we held our own,” he said. “I think the best aspect of the game was the second half when we came out with a little more ferocity. They allowed England to batter them but they came out very fierce. To turn it around showed an immense amount of heart. They showed they weren’t going to be afraid of the England team.”
“When you look at the difference in experience at a high level, a lot of those England players are playing club rugby and we have high school and college kids,” Chivers added. “I was exceptionally proud that they were able to make up for a lack of experience against a much more experienced England side.”