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England overcome tough South African challenge.


Nations Cup 2009.

In their first meeting since the 2006 World Cup, England took a 25-0 win over a tough South Africa side though the win did not come easily to the eventual competition winners. The bonus point victory against a side they had beaten 74-8 when they last met at gives them an unassailable lead at the top of the standings from USA, with a game to spare.

Phumeza Gadu and Saloma Booysen impressed early in the game for South Africa but it was England who eventually crossed for the opening try after Rachel Burford broke several tackles and in-form wing Kat Merchant touched down. Alice Richardson converted and then kicked a penalty to send England in leading 10-0 at half time. They increased that advantage when Claire Allan broke the defensive line with a smart dummy, setting up a try for Charlotte Barras.

South Africa continued to put pressure on England but were unable to turn that into points and instead Burford and Barras crossed for further tries to secure a third successive bonus point victory. The final whistle was, though, met with cheers from the South African bench at keeping England within sight.South Africa head coach Denver Wannies was pleased with sides performance, and impressed with their steady development over the course of the Nations Cup competition.

If you look at how we started from the beginning of the tournament until the end, youd have to be nave not to see the improvement. Today was a huge step in our progression towards the 2010 World Cup in August. Now we start structuring everything towards the World Cup, and we should have six test matches between now and then to help us prepare.

Wannies was complimentary of his entire team, but pointed out his Sevens players for really standing out.It really was a team effort today, and I believe it was our totality that brought us so much success today, but Gadu and Booysen continue to be impact players for us.

Clearly disgruntled with his squads showing, England head coach Gary Street was honest about their performance.We just didnt play well. It was just one of those bad days at the office and we made a lot of unforced errors. If we were to take a positive from todays match, a 25-nil win and a bonus point are obvious ones, but today was disappointing.

Street was adamant about looking at the bigger picture with Englands entire tournament performance; his squad remains unbeaten and has only a game against fourth ranked Canada on Saturday standing between them and their second Nations Cup title. Every aspect of our game can improve from today, and we are already looking forward to the match against Canada.