CLEALL BRACE HELPS ENGLAND BEAT FRANCE
Poppy Cleall scored a brace of tries for England as the Red Roses beat France 41-26 in their second 2019 Six Nations match.
Cleall and Sarah McKenna were the only Saracens Women who started for England with Marlie Packer and Vicky Fleetwood out injured and Hannah Botterman and Zoe Harrison among the replacements at Castle Park in Doncaster, where 4,674 fans turned out to support.
McKenna looked dangerous from the off, and after she was held up over the line, a break down the wing from Kelly Smith was quickly recycled for Cleall to hit a short line and power over in the 26thminute to put England 12-0 up.
The full-back was the orchestrator again just before half-time when her brilliant line break set up Jess Breach to secure the bonus point.
France responded in the opening stages of the second half with their first points, but some strong forward work close to the line allowed Cleall to cross for her second.
Botterman came on early in the second half and grabbed her chance to impress, powering over to finish off a series of pick and drives, and Catherine O’Donnell put the gloss on England’s win with a try five minutes before the end.
Red Roses head coach Simon Middleton: “That was a massive win for us and I was really pleased with how we came out and attacked and kept our discipline. We let France in during the second half but that only shows what a world-class side they are.
“We are not the finished article yet and there is plenty still for us to work on. Tonight we will let ourselves celebrate a great win but there is no place for complacency.”
England’s next Six Nations fixture is against Wales in Cardiff on Sunday 24 February. Kick-off is 12.30pm and the game is live on Sky Sports.