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Susie Appleby analyses first round of Women’s Six Nations action

Susie Appleby analyses first round of Women’s Six Nations action
Gloucester-Hartpury players featured in all three of the matches played in the opening round of the Women’s Six Nations last weekend, and Head Coach Susie Appleby was an interested observer.

England travelled to Ireland for the first game of the tournament, with Tatyana Heard and Kelly Smith both starting while Mo Hunt was named amongst the replacements.

Appleby felt that all three played their part in a good win for the Red Roses.

“The three England girls did really well. Kels (Kelly Smith) had a really good Autumn series, as has Tat (Tatyana Heard). But, with 15 good club games under her belt, Kels looked much more confident, especially compared to this time last year, and I think that really showed in her play.

“She’s coming infield off her wing and making things happen, like she does at club level, and being really effective on the ball.

“Tat’s carrying was phenomenal, but her distribution was really good as well and she created quite a few of those tries. She’s really developing as a player, and the fact that she’s playing in between Katy Daley-Mclean and Emily Scarratt is really beneficial.

“And Mo (Natasha Hunt) coming off the bench, added a massive injection to the game just at the right time when things were just dulling down a bit. Mo came on and added pace and excitement to the game. All three had really positive games.

“France will be a massive challenge, particularly in the front row where they are really strong so it’ll be a really different game on Sunday, even if France don’t travel well.

“It’ll be interesting. Discipline will be key, because if England give away penalties, France will work the touchlines and set up lineout drives. If England can maintain discipline, keep the ball and make good decisions then it could be a good day.”

France, of course, took on Wales in Montpellier and were simply too powerful for Rowland Phillips’ side on the night.

However, Beth Lewis and Hannah Jones, who both featured for the full 80 minutes, did themselves credit as they carried on battling right up until the very final whistle.

“Beth Lewis is a warrior. That’s a word you can accurately use for her. She’s an openside really and she’s playing number eight so she was playing out of position for a start.

“She’ll battle for you all day long. She took a blow to the face in France and had to be patched up, but nothing was going to keep her off the pitch, she just fought on.

“Hannah (Jones) didn’t see a lot of ball going forward, and that’s where Wales need to develop. They spend a lot of time defending, and they’re good in defence. In fact, Hannah was excellent defensively.

“Away to Italy is not going to be an easy game, but I think they’re got to be more confident and patient in what they’re doing when they get hold of the ball.”

Finally, on to Scotland for whom Katie Dougan was a replacement against Italy.

“It was a shame for Scotland against Italy, because they were in it right until the final few minutes and they had opportunities, especially when it was 15 against 13.

“They just weren’t clinical enough with the ball and that’s what they’ll be working on this week. They have to be more accurate with the ball, otherwise they’ll struggle against any team in the world.

“They’ve got a lot of young, inexperienced players and they’re missing some of their more experienced, wiser heads. That’s the difference between them and England, who also have younger players but who also have massive experience in the squad.

“But it was good to see Dougs (Katie Dougan) involved. She’s had a really good season and deserves to be in that squad. I’d just like to see her get more pitch time really.”

Finally, putting her well and truly on the spot, we asked Susie whether England vs France is the Six Nations decider!

“(Laughs) 100%”
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