The Red Roses were utterly dominant as they whitewashed Wales in their second 6 Nations fixture on Saturday. They scored 11 tries in total – including a hat-trick for Lydia Thompson – in a commanding performance against a Wales side who struggled to get a foothold in the game.
The first try came after only 4 minutes, as England worked the ball out wide to winger Wilson Hardy, who stepped her opposite number to go over in the corner. And their good start continued when hooker Amy Cokayne broke through some weak Welsh tackling to dive over for the second try of the match.
England were absolutely dominant and were exploiting the narrow Welsh defence, making easy ground out wide. A poor kick from the Welsh scrum half was collected by Emily Scarratt on the halfway line, and she made good ground before some smart interplay on the short side between Wilson Hardy, lock Harriet Miller-Mills and Natasha Hunt saw the latter cross for the third try.
The Red Roses had the try bonus point sewn up with just twenty minutes on the clock, and it was almost a carbon copy of the first, as the ball was spun out wide and Wilson Hardy dived over for her second.
Wales were looking completely outclassed and struggled even to get out of their own half, as England’s pace and superior kicking game kept them pinned back. Katy Mclean was the next English try-scorer, stepping back inside the defender to dot down in the corner after some good mauling work by the forwards.
The first half ended with yet another England try, as they won their line-out on the five metre line and drove over the line, captain Sarah Hunter coming up with the ball.
It was the same story in the second half, as England launched wave after wave of attack. A poor kick from the Welsh flyhalf Elinor Snowsill was collected by Danielle Waterman, who ran the ball back before it was again spun out wide to Thompson who scored in the corner. The score was 43 – 0; England were scoring at a point a minute.
Waterman scored two in ten minutes, both in the left hand corner after some slick hands across the backline, Mclean prominent.
With 53 points on the board and twenty five minutes still to play, England rang the changes, but there was no let up for Wales, as Wilson Hardy crossed for her second after more good work from Mclean, who held the ball just long enough to interest the outside defender, before popping it out to the wing who dotted it down.
However, they were forced to do some defending for the first time in the game, as a strong run from the Welsh No. 8 got Wales to within 5 metres of the English line. But in the shadow of her own posts, replacement hooker Vicky Fleetwood won the penalty for holding on at the ruck and England were able to clear their lines.
And soon enough, they were back at the other end of the pitch. Strong running from Sarah Hunter off the back of a scrum set the platform, and again England found plenty of space out wide, with Lydia Thompson crossing for her third try.
Wales rallied at the very end of the match, some good attacking play getting them deep into the England half. However, the Red Roses were determined not to allow them to get a point and defended well. A final Welsh attack was ended when England shoved them into touch and the game finished with the Red Roses resounding victors.
POTM: Katy Mclean was at the heart of everything good for England. The fly half was key in a number of tries, her passing out wide really exploiting the narrow Welsh defence. She also kicked from hand well, pinning Wales back in their own half, and scored a try of her own with a neat step off her right foot.
After last week’s slow start against France, England were keen to come out all guns blazing and they certainly did so, scoring four tries in the opening twenty minutes and utterly dominating the game. The backs’ passing was quick and accurate and the back three of Wilson Hardy, Thompson and Waterman were electric, their footwork in the corners brilliant.
In the forwards, Marlie Packer was again a strong presence. Her powerful running from the kick-offs got England onto the front foot on many occasions and she put in some fabulous last-ditch tackles when the Welsh were threatening the English line late in the game.
The second rows Harriet Miller-Mills and Tamara Taylor were also prominent, with strong running and good hands contributing to the Red Roses’ success.
In terms of things to improve, there was very little from England’s point of view. Again, the line outs were sometimes wayward, but overall it was a fantastic performance from the Red Roses.
Wales were let down by their defence out wide in particular. They were far too narrow and gave England’s pacy outside backs far too much room. Their kicking game was also poor, failing to make many metres and handing possession back to England in good positions.
On the positive side, their back row showed good power and strength in attack, breaking tackles and making metres.
Overall, a near-flawless display from England, who look the team to beat this year.
Wales (0) 0
England (38) 63
Tries: Wilson Hardy (2), Cokayne, Hunt, Thompson (3), Mclean, Hunter, Waterman (2). Cons: Scarratt (4)