Wins for France, England and Italy open Summer Series

Impressive starts for France and England, while Italy edged Scotland, in the first round of the Summer Series opened in Parma

Published by Six Nations, July 5th, 2024

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Wins for France, England and Italy open Summer Series

FRANCE 57 WALES 12

France registered nine tries through nine different scorers to start their Women’s Summer Series campaign with a 57-12 win against Wales.

Kelly Arbey, Mae Levy, Cleo Hagel, Marion Zdzioblo, Enoe Neri, Hawa Tounkara, Marie Morland, Amalia Bazooka and Kiara Zago all scored for France in a vibrant attacking display.

It was a tough day at the office for Wales, but they can be buoyed by tries for Lucy Isaac and Amy Williams, and will hope for better fortunes against England next Tuesday.

Arbey and her France teammates got the ball rolling in the fourth minute and were able to puncture the Wales defence on the left wing.

The rangy full-back linked up with hooker Zdzioblo and wing Suliana Sivi, the latter popping the ball back inside to Arbey who dotted down beneath the posts.

France continued to dominate the opening exchanges, with Levy and Hagel both crossing the whitewash to pin their opponents back with a three-try lead.

While Wales gained more of a foothold in the contest after Hagel’s score, they were buffered back to their own 22m by powerful French advances that resulted in Zdzioblo securing a fourth try of the game.

On the stroke of half-time Liza Burgess’ team found cause for optimism.

With France’s Marie Morland shown a yellow card for cynical play, Isaac drove across the try line from close range to get her team on the scoreboard.

Despite that positive conclusion to the opening 40 minutes, Wales remained on the back foot.

Much like the first half France ran riot, with centre duo Neri and Tounkara both breaking through red shirts to extend France’s lead to an unassailable 33 points.

Things went from bad to worse for Wales when Isaac was shown a yellow card for a high tackle.

Morland was the next beneficiary of France’s expansive offloading game. Patrolling the left touchline, the Lyon back-row watched on as Bazola, Victoire Foulon and Anna de Almeida combined before receiving the ball and barrelling over.

To finish with a flourish France scored again through Bazola and then again directly from the resulting kick-off, as Zago benefitted from the handling of Zoe Jean and Hagel on the left-hand side.

Amy Williams had the final say on matters in Parma as quick ball out wide to the Dragons wing was enough to send the youngster over the whitewash.

ENGLAND 33 IRELAND 10

England U20 skipper Lilli Ives Campion grabbed two tries as they made a dream start to the Women’s Summer Series with a 33-10 win over Ireland in Parma.

The second row crossed twice in the first half as England raced into a 26-5 lead by half-time and they then defended stoutly to see out a convincing win.

England got off to a flying start as Tori Sellors went over for the opening score after just two minutes. Off the back of a rolling maul, Lucy Calladine broke away before offloading for her scrum-half to dive over. Lia Green converted to make it 7-0.

They almost had a second from a brilliant counter-attack, Sophie Hopkins racing into the 22, only to be denied by a tap tackle from Chisom Ugwueru. The winger then had another chance in the same passage but could not quite collect Amelia MacDougall’s cross-kick.

England were in the ascendancy and thought they had a second try when Calladine got over from a rolling maul, but it was ruled out for obstruction.

The second try came on 18 minutes, Ives Campion with a pick and go from close range as Green converted once more for a 14-0 lead.

Having been under pressure for much of the half, Ireland responded. Kate Flannery ghosted through a gap and the fly-half then offloaded for Ugwueru to run in the try. Flannery’s conversion was off-target however.

Just after the half-hour, England stretched their lead, the quick feet of Reneeqa Bonner proving deadly as she got over in the left corner after the ball had been turned over in the Ireland 22.

Green could not convert but England had the last say in the first half, with Ives Campion grabbing her second. After an attacking lineout, England went through two phases before Ives Campion popped up to dive under the posts. Green’s conversion made it 26-5.

Ireland enjoyed an extended spell in the England 22 at the start of the second half, but just could not find a way to convert it into points.

Instead, England almost got in when centres Carmela Morrall and Millie Hyett combined on a break into the Ireland 22, with Hannah Clarke doing brilliantly to get back to bring down Hyett.

But it was England who got the first try of the second half, just before the hour. From a five-metre scrum, they spread the ball wide where Morrall found Green, who burst over. She converted her own try to stretch the lead to 33-5.

England’s defence was severely tested in the second half, Ives Campion doing well to intercept a Lucia Linn pass after a break into the 22.

Eventually, the pressure told though with a wonderful try from Clarke. Ellie O’Sullivan Sexton put in a clever chip which Clarke dribbled forward on the bounce before scooping up and dotting down.

England had a late chance for a sixth try, Niamh Swailes denied as she raced away after MacDougall’s break, but it was still a very impressive display.

ITALY 17 SCOTLAND 13

Greta Copat’s second-half try proved the difference as Italy edged out Scotland 17-13 in a dramatic final encounter on the first day of the Women’s Summer Series in Parma.

The replacement’s try on the hour was the only score of the second half and ended up seeing the home side through, but only after Scotland were denied in the final play.

Chasing the win and with penalty advantage, the Scots went for an up-and-under, with winger Sky Phimister speeding through and pouncing on a loose ball.

She dribbled it forward but her final kick through was just too deep, as the ball went agonisingly dead, much to Italian relief.

Italy had made a dream start with a try after just three minutes. From an attacking lineout five metres out, they set up a rolling maul, with tighthead prop Vittoria Zanette bursting through the middle to touch down. Martina Busana added the conversion.

Scotland responded, taking advantage of an Italian offside to get their first points of the game, Lucy MacRae knocking over a penalty on 11 minutes.

Back down the other end, Italy almost had a second, Zanette again at the heart of a rolling maul, but this time she was held up over the line.

Scotland showed some threat of their own, dynamic second row duo Holland Bogan and Natasha Logan combining as they raced out of their own 22 and deep into Italian territory.

They took the lead for the first time on 26 minutes through Nicole Flynn. After spreading the ball wide to Hannah Walker, she broke down the left before feeding Flynn inside her. MacRae converted from close in to make it 10-7.

Italy got their second try just after the half-hour, Aregash Pellizzon coming off the bench and powering over after a tap penalty in the Scottish 22 had been spread her way. Busana could not convert from the left.

And a monster penalty from MacRae swung the game back in Scotland’s favour once more as she made it 13-12.

That was how it remained in the first half, despite a final Scottish opportunity where Walker was well tackled by Elisa Cecati as she looked to be in on the left.

The defences were steadfast in the early stages of the second half, but Scotland’s impressive scrum earned them a succession of penalties and field position.

And yet it took a brilliant try-saving tackle from Gemma Bell on Rubina Emma Grassi after a delightful reverse pass from Nicole Mastrangelo had opened the gap.

It was a signal of the threat Italy could pose, and they took their chance, Copat stepping inside two drifting defenders after Italy had stacked players to the left after a scrum.

Her score on the hour was not converted by Busana but Italy led 17-13.

Phimister had been a threat early in the second half, and she was again after Italy had moved back in front, breaking down the right. But Pellizzon did brilliantly to force a turnover metres from her line.

And it was Phimister who almost stole it at the end, Scotland nearly going from their own half to win the match, only for the bounce of the ball to deny them.

 

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