Rugby Union: England win unpopular vote

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The Independent Online
England. . . . . .38

United States. . .23

KAREN ALMOND, the winning England captain, cradled the Women's World Championship trophy which came with victory over the United States in Edinburgh yesterday and admitted: 'We heard the booing but we didn't care because we were winning.'

For a match which had been labelled American ballerinas versus English bulldozers, England were always going to have a struggle to gain the popular vote.

There were, however, a handful in a crowd of about 7,000 who could not contain their frustration at English tactics, which were to squeeze the free-spirited Americans into submission up front.

Two penalty tries inside the opening 35 minutes, when the Americans collapsed retreating scrums, were greeted cooly in contrast to the rapturous response accorded expansive back moves which yielded touchdowns at the other end for the Eagles full-back, Jen Crawford, and Patti Jervey, the wing.

When England completed a pushover try from 25 metres out through Gill Burns after Emma Mitchell had increased the lead to 24-13 it was too much for some, who could not resist giving the bird to women who had paid up to pounds 800 each to compete.

In the temporary stands adorning the world's oldest international ground at Raeburn Place, where Scotland and England men clashed in 1879, there were mutterings about the spirit of the game being abused.

Almond was unapologetic: 'We consider ourselves an attacking team but the American backs are so dangerous we couldn't allow them chances to get into the match. The first two times they got the ball they opened out and scored.'

It was only when the centre Jacqui Edwards intercepted a pass and sprinted 30 metres for a score which made it 30-13 after 70 minutes that England began to feel that revenge for defeat at the hands of the same opposition in the 1991 final had been achieved.

The Americans gave a further glimpse of what the crowd had come to see when Elise Huffer went over from a short-range tap penalty before Jen Crawford ghosted through a gap up the narrow side for her 10th try of the tournament.

England: Tries penalty tries 2, Edwards, J Mitchell, Burns; Conversions Almond 5; Penalty Almond. United States: Tries Crawford 2, Huffer, Jervey; Penalty Bergmann.

ENGLAND: J Mitchell; V Blackett, J Edwards, (P George, 79), G Pragnell, A Cole; K Almond, E Mitchell; J Mangham, N Ponsford, S Ewing, S Wenn (J Chambers, 19), H Stirrup, J Ross, G Burns, G Shore.

UNITED STATES: J Crawford; P Jervey, C Orskini, E Huffer, K McFarrden; J Bergmann, P Connell; A Flavin, J Gray, M Sorensen, J Rutkowski, T Flanagan, S Hunter, B Bond (capt), L Spicer-Bourdon.

Referee: J Fleming (Scotland).