England strolled to a win over Spain, while USA's fast paced and physical game was too much for Italy
England 56 Spain 5
As expected, England dealt with the Spanish challenge, winning comfortably, and coach Simon Middleton will be pleased to have given game time to a wide spread of players over the 80 minutes.
Spain tackled bravely and looked full of spark at times but could do little to stop England’s power up front, with the English pack working tirelessly to create space and width for the finishers, most notably Kay Wilson who bagged four tries.
It started brightly for England. Meg Jones, the promising young centre, scythed through the Spanish defence after just a minute, showing great footwork to give England the lead.
Kay Wilson was almost over a few minutes later after a lovely break from Harriet Millar-Mills through the middle, but the winger did score just after when a huge scrum turnover on the 5 metre line handed her an easy finish.
Berta Garcia and Maria Ribera were forced into tackle after tackle to keep England at bay, but England’s power game up front took its toll and eventually a lovely kick from Mclean helped Wilson to her second try on the 20 minute mark.
A lovely break from Berta Garcia helped make some ground up for Spain finally but they could do little with it in the England 22, and were not helped by a head injury to the brilliant Barbara Pla which forced her off and not to return.
Wilson had her hat-trick on 30 minutes thanks to excellent pressure from the England pack at the line out back in the Spanish 22 and then finally Spain sparked to life through Patricia Garcia who pounced on a turnover to football the ball down the field, win a penalty and when it moved wide Diana Gasso was on hand to score to make it 24-5 at the break.
Off the bench, Emily Scarratt made an immediate impact after the turnaround, scoring after two minutes after an early break. Forward pressure again made life extremely difficult for Spain and Millar-Mills crashed over to help England to lead now unassailable before Wilson benefitted again from some fine passing to grab her fourth.
Alex Matthews then scored after a messy line out - the one area England will identify as needing work, though Amy Cokayne did rumble over from a well organised drive on the 70 minute mark.
Spain were just clinging on to shirts at this point, as England continued to find their stride and Lydia Thompson got her first a few minutes before the end to wrap up a fine win.
England will be content while knowing there are tougher challenges to come. Millar-Mills, Jones, Scarratt and Mclean were the standouts while their powerful lineout never really got going.
Spain will rue the loss of Pla but can take some positives from the game, while knowing that their World Cup has yet to start.
SPAIN: Barbara Pla; Maria Casado, Amaia Erbina, Marina Bravo, Iera Echebarria, Patricia Garcia, Anne Fernandez, Saioa Jaurena, Aroa Gonzalez, (capt), Jeanina Vinueza, Berta Garcia, Maria Ribera. Diana Gasso, Paula Medin, Elena Redondo
Replacements: Vanesa Rial (for Garcia 15) , Rocio Garcia (for Vinueza 51) Angela del Pan (for Redondo 51). Isabel Rico (For Gonzalez 50),
ENGLAND: Danielle Waterman, Lydia Thompson, Megan Jones, Rachael Burford, Kay Wilson, Katy Mclean, Leanne Riley, Vickii Cornborough, Heather Kerr, Sarah Bern, Abbie Scott, Zoe Aldcroft, Harriet Millar-Mills. Izzy Noel-Smith, Sarah Hunter (capt).
Replacements: Emily Scarratt (for Waterman 40) Alex Matthews for (Sarah Hunter (51), Toya Mason (for Mclean 51), Amy Cokayne (for Kerr 60); Rochelle Clark (for Cornborough 60), Lucas (for Bern 61), Poppy Cleall (for Scott 65), Amber Reed (for Burford 57)
ITALY 12 UNITED STATES 24
This game began at a fantastic pace and most of the early play was at the Italian end .
After five minutes Kristen Thomas broke several tackles to score the Americans’ first try.
The USA continued to play with the pace of a sevens game with the forwards and backs supporting each other brilliantly. Italy’s defence was stretched – but held out until midway through the half when Kimber Rozier added a second try for USA.
But it continued to be a game that spectators could not take their eyes away from for a moment. A great break by Alyscia Washington was followed a minute later by Stefan making the US 22 before being brought down. From that base, Italy won a lineout and from there the forwards drove forward to score through Cammarano.
With the conversion, the score was 12-7 with 26 minutes gone, and despite having only 30% of the ball Italy were back within five, with remained the score at half-time as US unforced errors proved costly.
The pattern continued into the second half, with USA dominating possession but giving the ball away before Alev Kelter came on, breaking the Italian line, and setting up Thomas for her second try, now 17-7 with 25 minutes to go.
Manueala Furlan then initiated a rare run into the USA half, but soon it was all USA pressure again.
Into the final quarter and Kelter and Thomas set up Abby Gustaitis, who had just come on, for the United States’ fourth try, taking the score to 24-7.
Italy continued to battle to the end, and with a couple of minutes to go another maul from a lineout gave them a second score, but in the end the 24-12 win was well deserved by the USA and they inded could have doubled the score with fewer unforced errors.
Italy: 15 Manuela Furlan (Svincolata, 55 caps); 14 Michela Sillari (Harlequins, 34 caps); 13 Maria Grazia Cioffi (Rugby Colorno, 46 caps ); 12 Sofia Stefan (Stade Rennais, 27 caps); 11 Maria Magatti (Rugby Monza 1949, 19 caps); 10 Veronica Schiavon (Yokohama TKM, 78 caps); 9 Sara Barattin (Villorba Rugby, 71 caps) (Captain); 8 Silvia Gaudino (Rugby Monza 1949, 67 caps); 7 Elisa Giordano (Valsugana Rugby Padova, 21 caps); 6 Isabella Locatelli (Rugby Monza 1949, 11 caps); 5 Alice Trevisan (Rugby Riviera 1975, 39 caps); 4 Flavia Severin (Benetton Treviso, 49 caps); 3 Melissa Bettoni (Stade Rennais, 35 caps); 2 Lucia Cammarano (ASD Rugby Monza 1949, 16 caps); 1 Elisa Cucchiella (Rugby Belve Neroverdi, 62 caps)
Replacements: 16 Marta Ferrari (Stade Rennais, 18 caps); 17 Lucia Gai (Stade Rennais, 47 caps); 18 Sara Tounesi (Rugby Colorno – esordiente); 19 Valeria Fedrighi (Verona Rugby, 2 caps); 20 Ilaria Arrighetti (Stade Rennais, 25 caps); 21 Beatrice Rigoni (Valsugana Rugby Padova, 16 caps); 22 Paola Zangirolami (Valsugana Rugby Padova, 72 caps); 23 Veronica Madia (Rugby Colorno, 3 caps)
United States: USA: Cheta Emba (Women's Eagles Sevens); Naya Tapper (Women's Eagles Sevens), Nicole Heavirland (Women's Eagles Sevens), Sylvia Braaten (Twin Cities Amazons), Kristen Thomas (Women's Eagles Sevens); Kimber Rozier (Scion Sirens), Deven Owsiany (San Diego Surfers); Catie Benson (Life West), Katy Augustyn (Berkeley All Blues), Tiffany Faaee (New York Rugby Club) (capt), Stacey Bridges (Twin Cities Amazons), Alycia Washington (New York Rugby Club), Sara Parsons (Northern Virginia Rugby), Kate Zackary (San Diego Surfers), Jordan Gray (Life West).
Replacements: Samantha Pankey (San Diego Surfers), Nai Reddick (Seattle Saracens), Hope Rogers (San Diego Surfers), Abby Gustaitis (Northern Virginia Rugby), Kristine Sommer (Seattle Saracens), Kayla Canett-Oca (Pennsylvania State University), Alev Kelter (Women's Eagles Sevens), Jessica Javelet (Women's Eagles Sevens).