Katy Daley-McLean was on great form for her 100th cap as England recorded their biggest ever win over the USA at Allianz Park.
This rainswept game decided in the 14th minute with a red card for USA prop Megan Rom – perhaps a little harsh, but it turned what was always going to be a difficult peak for the visitors into climb into something of Everest proportions.
But it was massively to the USA’s credit how well they performed. The score does not reflect that – the headline is “a record win for England against the United States”, but they gave as good as they got and you had to wonder how the game would have gone but for that red card.
How it did go was that England dominated the opening 8 minutes, with the USA barely getting a hand on the ball until they were restarting after Leanne Riley’s try. England were on top up front, and from a 5m scrum – won thanks to a great kick through by centurion Daley-McLean – a try seemed inevitable, and was.
The USA battled back, however, and penned England in their half for the next six minutes... until the red card, apparently for a high tackle involving the head. Even so, England took another ten minutes to take advantage, patient build-up play eventually putting Sarah McKenna in under the posts. 14-0.
A penalty try followed ten minutes later, resulting in a yellow card for Kate Zachery, and two more England tries before the break, the best being Daley-McLean’s 50m run for the line – a try which Simon Middleton said he feared will be repeated and replayed by its scorer in great detail for weeks to come!
33-0 at halftime quickly became 40-0 with Lydia Thompson finding room against the USA’s 13 players, but after that things began to slow down. The USA got back to 14, and the benches came into play, with the USA’s replacements more fired up than England. Sarah Hunter’s try took England to 47-0 after 53 minutes, but the next 20 minutes were very even, England being repeatedly held up by heroic USA defence before on 75 minutes the USA deservedly got on the board through Jennine Duncan.
That achieved, USA perhaps relaxed a little and England struck back in the final couple of minutes with two tries from Kelly Smith and Carys Williams.
England: 15 Sarah McKenna 14 Lydia Thompson 13 Carys Williams 12 Tatyana Heard 11 Kelly Smith 10 Katy Daley-Mclean 9 Leanne Riley 1 Ellena Perry 2 Lark Davies 3 Shaunagh Brown 4 Zoe Aldcroft 5 Abbie Scott (C), 6 Joanna Brown 7 Vicky Fleetwood 8 Sarah Beckett
Replacements: 16 Heather Kerr 17 Vickii Cornborough 18 Hannah Botterman 19 Catherine O'Donnell 20 Sarah Hunter 21 Claudia Macdonald 22 Zoe Harrison 23 Lucy Attwood
USA: 1. Megan Rom 2. Joanna Kitlinski 3. Catie Benson Prop 4. Stacey Bridges 5. Alycia Washington 6. Rachel Johnson 7. Kate Zackary (C) 8. Jordan Gray-Matyas 9. Anna Karen Pedraza 10. Gabby Cantorna
11. Sarah Levy 12. McKenzie Hawkins 13. Emily Henrich 14. Kelsi Stockert 15. Kaitlyn Broughton
Replacements: 16. Joyce Taufa 17. Azniv Nalbandian 18. Nick James 19. Melissa Finkelstein 20. Kristine Sommer 21. Nikki Kenyon Reserve 22. Megan Foster 23. Jennine Duncan