England’s Red Roses competed a successful autumn international series with three wins from three, finally overcoming a doughty Ireland 37-15 at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday 24th November. Old Colfeians’ Crimsons as a team were there to watch. And for added excitement, in the starting line up for England was Crimsons’ coach Vicky Fleetwood playing at openside flanker (no 7).
Power and dominance from the Roses’ forwards resulted in two tries from driving mauls for Heather Kerrand and Vicki Cornborough and a third for winger Kelly Smith, after a smart offload from Tatyana Heard. But Ireland (perhaps inspired by the Twickenham atmosphere) struck back with two fine tries of their own on half time to stay in touch with England leading at 15-10.
England pulled away in the second half, reinforced from the bench with experienced players Katy Daley-McLean and Rachel Burford combining to create opportunities for the electric winger Lydia Thompson.
The first score went to Lydia Thompson who latched onto Zoe Harrison’s superbly weighted grubber for the first points of the second half and then she showed her class to break a tackle and race in from inside her own half for a second score.
Some Irish pressure on England’s line eventually saw Claire Molloy score but it was the Red Roses who were victorious as they ended 2018 on a high as Thompson finished off a smart handling move for her hat-trick before Cath O’Donnell bundled over in stoppage time.
The Crimsons’ own Red Rose Vicki Fleetwood was prominent in defense throughout with several strong tackles halting Irish midfield runners and one searing break from a lineout which had the crowd on their feet.
Ending their 2018 with a win over Ireland, the Red Roses have now won seven of their eight games over the calendar year and will head into the 2019 Six Nations full of confidence.