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How England Women achieved Grand Slam glory

How England Women achieved Grand Slam glory
  • England win Grand Slam after 80-0 triumph over Scotland
  • They ran in 45 tries and scored 278 points on their way to the Championship
  • Jess Breach was their top try scorer as she dotted nine times in five matches

England completed their perfect Women’s Six Nations campaign in 2019 after their 80-0 triumph over Scotland in Round Five.

They were firm favourites to win their ninth Grand Slam ahead of hosting the Scots at Twickenham on Saturday, having dominated the tournament with 20 points from a possible 20, seeing off Ireland, Wales, Italy and reigning champions France.

England showed a new brand of ruthless attacking rugby in the 2019 tournament, scoring 278 points in their five fixtures.

Here’s a look back over their journey to the Grand Slam title in what was an exhilarating, record-breaking edition of the 2019 Women’s Six Nations.

STATEMENT OPENER

England made a statement of intent when they put on a breath-taking display to down Ireland in the opening fixture of the Women’s Six Nations, setting the tone for their Grand Slam-winning triumph.

After a slow start England were just 13-0 to the good at the break, but the Red Roses came out in style and ran in 38 second-half points to get their Championship bid off to the perfect start.

Ireland began on the front foot and nearly scored through the lively Michelle Claffey, before Jess Breach did what she does best – showing electric pace down the right to score England’s first try of the Championship.

The Red Roses ended up with eight different try scorers on the night, Sarah Bern powered over the line for England’s first points of the second half before Lark Davies, Katy Daley-McLean, Zoe Harrison and Emily Scott joined in on the point-scoring fun.

The win was comfortably in England’s grasp, and to top off the performance Bryony Cleall dotted down on her debut with just sixty seconds left on the clock.

BEATING THE DEFENDING CHAMPIONS

The Red Roses took a major step towards winning the Women’s Six Nations with a convincing 41-26 bonus-point victory over reigning champions France in Doncaster.

England’s dynamic attack saw them score seven tries to four at Castle Park. Breach and Poppy Cleall both crossed twice, while Kelly Smith, Hannah Botterman and Catherine O’Donnell also scored to clinch the win.

In a match billed as a tournament decider, the Red Roses shocked many by racing into a 24-0 lead by half-time.

France hit back immediately after the restart through Safi N’Diaye, before Pauline Bourdon added two and Romane Menager crossed late on to ensure the reigning champions did not leave empty-handed.

On top of the victory, it was a landmark moment for Daley-McLean who went over 500 points in international rugby with her conversion from the tee.

RUTHLESS IN WALES

England were clearly unwilling to settle for anything but another ruthless win as they ran in nine tries to beat Wales 51-12 and remain on course to win the Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam.

Bern and Breach scored two tries apiece and flanker Packer crossed to secure the bonus-point after 26 minutes, before O’Donnell, Abbie Dow, Sarah Beckett and Daley-McLean all scored in the second half.

Wales, on the other hand, never looked in with a chance of winning but, if any consolation, Rowland Phillips’ side did score their first try of the 2019 Six Nations through Jess Kavanagh and Cerys Hale added their second.

Daley-McLean grabbed a late score after another excellent play-making performance in the number 10 shirt to round off a spectacular afternoon for the Red Roses which saw them move up to 15 points in the table.

UNBEATEN SIDES FACE OFF

In Round Four, England edged one step closer to sealing the Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam with a commanding 55-0 bonus-point victory over second-placed Italy in Exeter.

Italy frustrated England in the early stages, but once again Simon Middleton’s side stepped it up in the scrum and overpowered their opponents as Breach, Davies and Packer all scored first-half tries.

England shone in the second-half and immediately clinched the bonus-point when Bern found the line with a bulldozing run after a clever line-out.

Packer got her second after good work from captain Sarah Hunter and Vickii Cornborough was forced over as England’s forwards dominated.

The Red Roses capped off the win when Scott and Vicky Fleetwood went over in the final minutes in front of a packed crowd in Exeter’s Sandy Park of 10,545 – a new record for a Women’s Six Nations match in England.

GRAND SLAM GLORY

And England secured the Grand Slam in style at Twickenham as they ran in 12 tries on their way to a 80-0 win over Scotland to confirm the Championship and Grand Slam.

Once again it was Breach doing the early damage as she added a double in the opening 17 minutes, taking her total for the tournament to nine.

The Red Roses were relentless once again as Beckett, Natasha Hunt and Smith on top of the winger’s double in the opening quarter.

Cleall and Cockayne added more tries before the break as England went in 45-0 up, before Bern and Hunter touched down before the hour mark.

Scarratt and Cleall helped the hosts to continue with the try scoring at Twickenham, before O’Donnell’s try at the end to round off the English triumph.

Few could argue the trophy had not ended up in the right place as England finished the 2019 Championship with 45 tries – 18 more than their closest rivals France.