WRWC: Red Roses beat spirited USA side to top Pool B

The Red Roses have booked their place in the World Cup semi-finals with a 47 – 26 win over the USA in their final pool match. Tries from McLean, Scarratt, Packer (2), Wilson Hardy and Cokayne, plus a penalty try, saw England safely through to the knock-out stages, but their opponents are also through after scoring a late bonus-point try.

The Red Roses started the match well, putting defensive pressure on the USA and forcing a penalty, but Scarratt missed the posts from a relatively easy position.

Soon enough, though, England had their first try after completely dominating the USA at the scrum. An American put-in on their own 5 metre line was turned over by a fantastic drive from the English forwards and they were awarded the penalty. McLean kicked to the corner and from the resultant line-out England set up the rolling maul, which looked like it would steam over the line, but it was brought down illegally by the USA. With the advantage, McLean got the ball and dribbled a kick through, which was met by an onrushing Emily Scarratt who touched down to open England’s account. She added the conversion to make it a seven-point lead.

The Red Roses got their second try after the USA again took down the rolling maul illegally, the referee awarding a penalty try, and with Scarratt adding the extras England stretched their lead. Hooker Augustyn was the guilty party and she was sin-binned, leaving the USA a player down for the next ten minutes.

Everything seemed to be working for England; the line-out, with Cokayne and Taylor back at the helm, was working beautifully, the scrum was dominating and McLean was pinning the USA in their own half with probing kicks behind the back three.

All that pressure resulted in another England try, this time the rolling maul making it over the line. Flanker Marlie Packer came up with the ball, and with Scarratt converting again England led 21 – 0.

The USA weren’t about to give up, though, and they strung some good phases together, their big forwards charging at the England line and making some ground. The Red Roses’ defence held firm and lock Emily Scott, who had a great game, got over the ball and won a penalty for holding on.

McLean punted the penalty kick into the corner, and when the resultant line-out went to Taylor, she set up a maul. Again, the USA had no answer to England’s power, and Packer went over for her second of the afternoon. Scarratt, who seemed to have put on her kicking boots this match, converted and the Red Roses led 28 – 0 after just twenty five minutes of play.

The USA hit back, though, and very nearly had a try of their own through winger Thomas, but great work from Wilson Hardy among others held her up over the line. With the Americans looking more dangerous in attack the Red Roses had to work hard to hold them out. The USA earned a scrum on England’s 5 metre line and they finally got their first try through flanker Kate Zackary, who went over from close range. Fly-half Alev Kelter converted the score and the Americans deservedly had some points on the board.

The Red Roses reverted to kicking, McLean and Scarratt again pinning the USA back with good long kicks into space, and right on half time England scored their fifth try. Wary of the threats out wide, the American defence pushed too wide, and when those closest to the ruck rushed up, they left a big gap in front of England fly-half McLean, who ran in to score. Scarratt missed the conversion, but the Red Roses entered the changing rooms at half time with a very healthy lead, having scored five tries to the USA’s one.

The second half started as the first had ended, Abbie Scott breaking through some tackles and charging downfield before some simple draw-and-pass and straight running from the England backs saw Amy Wilson Hardy run in unopposed. Scarratt, whose kicking from the tee seemed to have improved immeasurably from the last two games, knocked the conversion over and England led 40 – 7.

Five minutes later, England had another line-out on the USA’s five metre line, and once again Tamara Taylor won the ball in the air and set up the driving maul. The England forwards powered over the line and hooker Amy Cokayne scored the try. Scarratt converted again to make the score 47 – 7.

However, the threat of an annihilation seemed to galvanise the USA, and they began to string the phases together in attack and stretch the English defence. Their quick back three, wing Naya Tapper in particular, made some good ground and when the USA won a scrum in England’s half, she and centre Kelter showed good strength to bust through some tackles and get over the gain-line into the 22. Tapper was brought down just short of the line, but full-back Cheta Emba picked the ball up and dotted it down for the USA’s second score.

The Americans were certainly enjoying most of the possession during this period, but the English defence was holding up well, leaving no gaps for the USA’s dangerous outside backs to exploit. That was until wing Tapper glided through a gap and sped past Waterman to score a lovely solo try, her speed too much for the defence. Kelter converted and the Americans had brought some respectability back to the scoreline, which was 47 – 19 in England’s favour.

While the USA were getting into the game, England were getting sloppier, conceding penalties which allowed the Americans to gain field position through kicks to touch. The Americans drove into the English 22, and for the first time this tournament put the Red Roses under some sustained pressure. Their defence held up, though, their tackling and organisation both solid, and they stopped their opposition from gaining any ground, the pressure eventually forcing them to kick the ball away.

But the Americans came right back at them. Once again, though, the Red Roses’ defence stood firm and forced the knock-on.

However, the USA would not give up in their quest for a bonus-point try, and with eighty  minutes on the clock, wing Thomas showed her sublime pace, racing out of her own half and swerving past Waterman to touch down and ensure that the USA advanced to the semi-finals.

With Kelter converting the try, the final score was 47 – 26 to the Red Roses, and both teams are deservedly through to the knock-out stages.

England: 47 (33)
Tries
– Scarratt, Penalty try, Packer 2, Mclean, Wilson Hardy, Cokayne Conversions – Scarratt 5, Penalty Try

USA: 26 (7)
Tries
– Zackary, Emba, Tapper, Thomas  Conversions – Kelter 3

POTM: The forward pack were immense in this game, both as a unit and individually. The scrum put an enormous amount of pressure on the USA; the line-out, led by the outstanding Tamara Taylor and hooker Amy Cokayne, was back to its best, and the maul was a thing of beauty. Prop Sarah Bern ran well, as did Marlie Packer and Alex Matthews, and in defence Sarah Hunter was a tackling machine and a constant nuisance at the breakdown, winning a couple of turnovers. But my POTM award goes to lock Abbie Scott. In both attack and defence she excelled: breaking the line, winning turnovers at the breakdown, ripping the ball away in the tackle, and neutralising the USA’s maul, as well as contributing to England’s own mauling prowess. She had a massive game.

Analysis

So, England are through the pool stages with three good wins from three games played. They will be pretty happy with that, but even a victory as straightforward as this one against the USA has highlighted areas in which the Red Roses can improve.

Firstly, the positives, and there were a lot of them – for one thing, the handling errors which blighted England’s game against Italy were much reduced, and with McLean starting at fly-half they seemed a lot more sure of themselves in attack. McLean and Scarratt’s kicking from hand is also a big plus point, as they repeatedly gained field position and kept the Americans pinned back in their own half with probing kicks which more often than not found the turf.

And Emily Scarratt finally found her place-kicking mojo, converting 5/6 tries and although she missed a relatively easy penalty attempt early on, she didn’t let that phase her. In the knockout stages the games are sure to be closer than what we’ve seen so far in England’s matches, and place kicks will be much more important in deciding the final score, so it’s good to see that Scarratt’s found some form in this area.

For all the gushing I’ve done about the backs over the past couple of matches, this was a game in which England’s forward pack really came into their own, dominating the scrum and line-out and scoring three tries through their maul, as well as earning a penalty try when it was illegally brought down. The driving maul was crucial to England’s Six Nations campaign, and it looks as though it will take some stopping in this tournament, too.

Coupled with the success of the maul is the improvement of the line-out. Hooker Amy Cokayne’s throws in this game were accurate and impressive considering she threw to the back of the line-out on a couple of occasions, and the lifters worked well to get the likes of Tamara Taylor up into the air and then back down quickly. The line-out is key to the set-up of the rolling maul – a good throw, a good catch and good organisational skills on the ground ensure that players get around the ball-carrier quickly and protect the ball, passing it to the back of the maul and stopping the opposition from wrapping up the line-out jumper and the ball as soon as she’s back on the floor. With Cokayne throwing and Taylor jumping, England had the perfect platform to set up their powerful drive – these two are key to its success.

The Red Roses’ defence was also, for the most part, effective. For large periods of the second half the USA were camped in the English 22, and while they scored four tries, overall England’s defence was up to the task and their organisation and tackle completion ensured that the USA didn’t have too many holes to run into. England made over 120 tackles in this game, and while they missed 15, that’s still an 89% tackle completion rate. Additionally, the USA only made six clean breaks, so it seems that there was often someone close by to make a cover tackle if the initial tackler missed, which is good news for England’s defensive organisation.

They will be disappointed that they let in a couple of tries towards the end of the game, but with the match won they may have been saving energy (at least, let’s hope that’s the case). Plus, the USA are no walkovers and their loose forwards, particularly Gray and Zackary, and their back three caused England a few problems in defence. The USA are deserved semi-finalists and hopefully, with rugby becoming a varsity sport next year, they will kick on from this tournament and become a real force in women’s rugby. The foundations are certainly there.

As for England, they now have a semi-final against France to think about. While they beat them in the Six Nations this year, the French have improved since then and will be a far tougher opponent than any the Red Roses have faced so far.

Photo credit: The Guardian

 

England name team for Pool B decider against the USA

Red Roses coach Simon Middleton has made six changes to the side which beat Italy three days ago as England look to advance into the semi-finals of the World Cup.

Regular skipper Sarah Hunter returns to the starting line-up at Number 8, while Alex Matthews and Marlie Packer, who both had storming games against Italy, complete the back row.

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WRWC: Red Roses score ten tries in big win over Italy

England scored another ten tries in their second World Cup pool match against Italy on Sunday afternoon, although a series of handling errors took the sheen off the win and left them with plenty to work on.

In fact they could have had two or three tries in the opening minutes, but knock-ons from Marlie Packer and Amy Wilson Hardy, both with the try-line in their sights, meant England came up with nothing to show for their early dominance.

The opening ten minutes was almost all played in the Italians’ half, but England were their own worst enemies. When Italy did get the ball back, their kicking let them down and one such clearance was caught by full-back Danielle Waterman, who proceeded to step past three Italians and break the line. The ball came out to Emily Scarratt, who showed great strength to hold off an Italian defender and score the opening try. She missed the conversion, but at least the Red Roses were on the board after their early pressure.

Alex Matthews scored the Red Roses’ second try after winger Amy Wilson Hardy sliced through the heart of the Italian defence, showing great pace. Matthews, on the shoulder of fly-half Amber Reed, ran a good line and went straight through the gap between two front row players to run in under the posts. Scarratt converted and the Red Roses led 12 – 0.

They wouldn’t have it all their own way though, as shortly after that score Italy kicked a penalty and then scored a try of their own. They were patient and accurate, pulling the English defence from one side of the pitch to the other. When the ball was spun wide, the Italians made the most of the overlap they’d created and winger Magatti dived over to score. Although the conversion was missed, the Italians were right back in the game and deservedly so, the score 12 – 8 after twenty minutes.

This seemed to galvanise the Red Roses somewhat, and they turned to their hugely successful rolling maul which once again marched up the field. The backs then repaid their forwards’ hard work with a good back-line try, winger Lydia Thompson scoring in the corner. With the conversion again missed, England led 17 – 8.

The Red Roses were playing well in fits and starts, but their handling let them down and they wasted several opportunities as the first half came to a close. However, they did manage to secure the bonus-point try just before the half ended. Back row players Matthews and Packer both had strong runs, before the ball was whipped out to the right where three England players stood unmarked. Hooker Amy Cokayne was the one who got the ball, and she dotted down for an easy score. Scarratt missed the conversion, but England left the pitch leading 22 – 8.

The start of the second half saw a change in fly-half, as Katy McLean replaced Rachael Burford and Amber Reed shifted out to inside centre. McLean immediately got the attack ticking along nicely, and the Red Roses looked much more organised with her at the helm. A nice inside ball to Marlie Packer and a good pass from the replacement saw Tamara Taylor go over three minutes into the second half.

And McLean was at it again a few minutes later, just holding onto the ball for a fraction of a second to hold the defence before popping the pass to an onrushing Emily Scarratt, who ran a lovely line and scored her second try of the afternoon. She failed to convert her try, but England were starting to look very dangerous.

Italian full-back Furlan obviously decided to prove that the Italians weren’t beaten yet, and when she spotted two props in front of her, she promptly darted between them and set off downfield. The Italians earned a penalty for an early tackle and kicked to touch, before giving England a taste of their own medicine and setting up a maul which the Red Roses did well to stop. The danger hadn’t passed, though, and a few pick-and-drives later lock Giordano went over for the Italians’ second score. The conversion was missed, but England now led 34 – 13.

The Red Roses replied almost immediately with their sixth try of the afternoon, Packer and Matthews again with good runs into the heart of the Italian defence. Scarratt nearly went in for her hat-trick after another well-timed inside ball from McLean, but quick hands down the short side saw Waterman power over to score. The conversion was yet again missed, and England led 39 – 13 with twenty-five minutes still to play.

And Waterman added her second try a couple of minutes later. She got the ball in space and had Wilson Hardy outside her, but didn’t need her as she dummied and then stepped inside the full back to score under the posts. Amber Reed converted the score, a welcome relief for all concerned after the poor quality of most of the conversion attempts in this match.

England continued to pressure the Italians, the half pairing of McLean and Mason directing play well. With five minutes to go, another piece of Waterman brilliance sparked an England attack, showing her strength as she handed off a couple of defenders and broke the line. The ball was recycled and spun out wide, where centre Megan Jones took a half step which held the outside defender, then passed to wing Lydia Thompson who ran in to score England’s ninth try of the afternoon.

And they managed to squeeze in one more try before the final whistle blew, this one a fantastic team effort. Good, accurate passing from both forwards and backs allowed the Red Roses to move the ball swiftly from one side of the pitch to the other, making their way methodically up to the Italians’ try line. Another inside ball from McLean, this time to Wilson Hardy, split the Italians open once again and the winger ran  in to score. The conversion was once again missed, but England had more than enough points in the end, winning 56 – 13.

England 56 (13)
Tries:
 Scarratt (2), Matthews, Thompson (2), Cokayne, Taylor, Waterman (2), Wilson Hardy. Conversions: Scarratt (2) Reed, Thompson

Italy 13 (13)
Tries: Magatti, Giordano Pens: Schiavon

Watch the match highlights here.

POTM: Danielle Waterman had a fantastic game, her pace and footwork sparking many an England attack. Her ability to beat defenders is ridiculous at times, and she finds space in the tightest of areas. Katy McLean again had a great game – she took the ball to the line and her flat passes to the likes of Alex Matthews and Marlie Packer allowed the back row to run rampant in that second half. The difference in attack with her at the helm was pretty vast, and she is certainly an incredibly valuable player for the Red Roses at the moment. But my POTM actually goes to two players this week – back rowers Marlie Packer and Alex Matthews. Both were superb in attack – not only are they big, strong runners, but they are incredibly intelligent players; they are so good at picking their running lines, and are so often on the ball-carrier’s shoulder, ready to receive an offload. Packer was also busy in defence, winning a few turnovers at the breakdown.

Analysis

Well, England scored another ten tries and the scoreline suggests that they dominated the Italians. However, for large portions of the first half, and even into the second half, the Red Roses were well below the level that we’ve come to expect from them in recent months. Basic handling errors just killed their momentum and poor passing stunted their attack. They were also a bit sloppy at the breakdown, allowing the Italians to disrupt their ball and thus slow down their attack.

Starting fly-half Amber Reed also struggled somewhat to get her back-line going, and while she actually had a solid game, the difference when McLean came on showed what England had been lacking in that play-maker role.

Place kicking remains a big issue – neither Scarratt, McLean or Reed have shown much aptitude for taking kicks so far, and hopefully they will spend the next two days practicing conversions from dawn to dusk.

Anyway, onto the positives. The line-out improved enormously from last game’s almost shambolic performance. The return of Tamara Taylor showed what England had been lacking in terms of a real leader at the line-out, and combined with the accurate throwing of Amy Cokayne meant that the Red Roses got clean ball off the top to either pass out to the backs or set up their rolling maul – a much better state of affairs than last game, where just retaining possession was beyond the capabilities of the English line-out at times.

The back row were stand-out performers, all three having great games. Marlie Packer was typically industrious, winning turnovers and rampaging through the Italian defence, Izzy Noel-Smith worked tirelessly at the breakdown, and Alex Matthews was very impressive in attack. Amy Cokayne also had a good game, as did Waterman and Scarratt in the backs, and young Megan Jones continues to impress.

All in all, it was a mixed performance from the Red Roses. For most of the second half they looked in fine form, the replacement backs and McLean in particular making a big difference to the attack. The fact that they remembered how to catch and pass also helped, but they cannot afford to make so many basic errors as they did in the first half again this tournament, as the better teams will certainly punish them more than Italy did.

 

WRWC: England make ten changes for Italy match

The Red Roses have brought in ten new players to the match-day squad ahead of their second World Cup pool match against Italy.

Emily Scarratt returns to the starting line-up at outside centre and replaces Sarah Hunter as captain, while in the halves Natasha Hunt and Amber Reed replace Riley and McLean. Rachael Burford, who impressed on the June tour of New Zealand, gets a start in the centres, while on the wing Amy Wilson Hardy returns to the team for the first time since the Six Nations.

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WRWC: Red Roses get World Cup campaign off to a winning start

England have started their World Cup defence in the best possible way as they eased to a 56 – 5 win in their opening match against Spain. They ran in ten tries, four of them to wing Kay Wilson who was once again in prolific form.

The Red Roses were out of the blocks early, their first score coming barely a minute into the match when young centre Megan Jones burst through a weak Spanish tackle and then stepped past the full back to score under the posts. McLean converted and England were off to the perfect start.

They almost had a second a minute later, but the Television Match Official (TMO) judged that Kay Wilson knocked the ball on trying to ground it for the try and Spain were awarded the scrum. However, the England pack drove the Spanish off the ball and Hunter attacked the short side. Quick hands from McLean saw the ball go out to Wilson, and this time she made sure she got it down. McLean nailed the conversion from the touchline and put the Red Roses fourteen points up.

Spain needed to get their act together quickly and luckily they stepped up their defensive efforts, winning turnovers at the breakdown and putting in big hits on the English forwards. The Red Roses certainly tested them, but they held firm and even managed to force England backwards a couple of times.

However, the Red Roses were also finding big gaps in Spain’s defence and soon had their third try, a pinpoint McLean crossfield kick finding Wilson in acres of space; she caught the ball and promptly dotted it down for her second try.

Spain continued to defend manfully, competing hard at the breakdown and forcing the Red Roses to commit more players to rucks. They also showed some of their attacking prowess, breaking the line a couple of times, but they lacked composure, kicking the ball away in good positions or throwing wayward passes.

Just after the half-hour mark, Wilson was in for her hat-trick after the forwards pressured the Spanish at the line-out and won the ball. They sucked in the defence with some pick-and-gos and when the ball was spun out wide, Wilson had the space and the strength to bump off her opposite number and score. McLean missed the conversion, but the Red Roses had their bonus-point try and were leading 24 – 0.

Spain hit back with a try of their own, a loose England pass pounced on by fly-half Garcia who hacked downfield, two England players on her tail. They beat her to the ball but knocked on, and Garcia took the quick tap penalty. As the Red Roses struggled to get back onside, Spain passed the ball out to the right where blindside flanker Gasso slid over for a try which was particularly well-received by the crowd. With Garcia missing the conversion, the score remained 24 – 5.

England had one more chance to score in the first half when they won a penalty and kicked for the corner, but the resultant line-out was poor and Spain came away with the ball.

The start of the second half saw Emily Scarratt come on, and she made an immediate impression, gliding between two defenders to score England’s fifth try a couple of minutes into the second half.

And Spain found themselves back on their own try line a few minutes later when England were awarded a scrum, but the Spanish forwards showed great strength, very nearly pushing the Red Roses off their own ball. Some good work from Number 8 Sarah Hunter kept England in possession, though, and they attacked the fringes of the ruck with big forward carries, hammering away at the Spanish line. Spain again defended well, but when flanker Harriett Millar-Mills ran at fly-half Garcia there was only going to be one winner, and Millar-Mills added her name to the scoresheet, stretching the Red Roses’ lead to 29 points.

Centre Megan Jones was one of a number of England players having a good game, and she tidied up a loose pass before beating a couple of defenders with some lovely footwork, making her way into the Spanish 22. A few phases later, a lovely long pass from Burford found Wilson once more in acres of space, and she had an easy run-in for England’s seventh try of the afternoon. Scarratt, who had taken over kicking duties from McLean, missed the conversion, but the Red Roses led by 39 points to 5.

England’s line-out was certainly not functioning well, costing them possession a couple of times, and when a third English line-out in a row went wrong on Spain’s five-metre line, it seemed as though they’d wasted the opportunity. However, excellent pressure at the ruck led to Garcia attempting a hasty clearance kick in her own in-goal area. She was charged down by substitutes Amy Cokayne and Alex Matthews, the latter managing to get a hand to the ball and ground it for another England try. Scarratt knocked the conversion over from a relatively difficult angle.

Cokayne got a try of her own with fifteen minutes to go after an England line-out finally went to plan and the Red Roses’ famous rolling maul steamed over the try line. Scarratt missed the conversion, but England had passed fifty points and were on course for a good win.

In the final ten minutes it was the English defence rather than their attack which impressed the most, as they kept Spain trapped in their own 22. The pressure told, and the Spanish knocked the ball on, handing England a scrum. Spain then compounded their error by conceding a penalty at the scrum, and the Red Roses took the quick tap. They spread the ball wide and Cokayne and Jones went close to scoring before some solid drives from the forwards sucked in the Spanish defence. Scrum-half Riley span the ball out wide and winger Lydia Thompson went over for a simple score. Although Scarratt missed the conversion, the Red Roses were well clear and when the final whistle blew a couple of minutes later, they had won 56 – 5.

England 56 (24)
Tries:
 Jones, Wilson (4), Millar-Mills, Scarratt, Matthews, Cokayne, Thompson Conversions: McLean (2), Scarratt

Spain 5 (5)
Tries: Gasso

Watch the match highlights here

POTM: Lots of players had great games – in the forwards, Harriet Millar-Mills again impressed, while prop Sarah Bern also had some strong runs and captain Sarah Hunter was her typical self, getting through a ton of grunt work and popping up at all the right times to tidy up loose ball or make a vital tackle. In the backs, Kay Wilson again had a great game, scoring four tries, and centre Megan Jones was very impressive, showcasing her fancy footwork and putting in some big hits. But there was one player who stood out even among all those good performances, and that is fly-half Katy McLean. She ran the English attack perfectly, taking the ball to the line and throwing lovely flat passes – I lost count of the number of times she put people into holes with those passes. She broke the line, she took a superb catch and then plowed through a couple of Spanish defenders, she put in some beautiful kicks downfield, not to mention that crossfield kick for Wilson’s second try, and all-in-all had a fantastic match. The only slight black mark is her goal-kicking, but when you’re playing so well and setting up so many tries, what does that matter? (see: a certain current male World Player of the Year…)

Analysis

Firstly, how great is it to be watching the World Cup? After all these months of preparation and anticipation (I’m sure Wednesday 9th August has been circled on your calendar since the World Cup dates were announced), we can finally see the best teams in women’s rugby compete for the right to call themselves world champions. I sincerely hope you’re able to watch as much of the action as possible over the coming fortnight.

Now, onto the match. It was a pleasing performance from the Red Roses in many ways. In attack players were coming onto the ball at pace, they looked well-organised, their handling was almost perfect and they ran in ten tries. What was also impressive was the way they adapted to the Spanish defence. England love to get the ball out wide where they’re so dangerous, and they often rely on a quick recycle of the ball at rucks, getting the ball away before the defence has time to get organised and disrupt the breakdown. However, the Spanish competed well at the breakdown, slowing the ball down and forcing England to commit more players in order to secure possession. This meant that Spain had time to get organised in defence and cover any space out wide.

However, the Red Roses turned this to their advantage, using pick-and-gos and having pods of forwards carry the ball into contact around the fringes of the ruck. This both sucked in Spanish defenders and ensured that there were England players already at the ruck to secure possession before Spain could get their hands on it, ensuring that the ball was recycled quickly and thus allowing scrum-half Riley to get it out wide to the likes of Scarratt and Wilson, who could then exploit the space created by their forwards.

Their defence was also solid, particularly in the last fifteen minutes or so when they pinned Spain back in their own 22 and forced them into making errors. They worked hard to cover the width of the pitch, as Spain were fond of throwing long passes across the field, and very much limited their opponent’s scoring opportunities, which showed in the scoreline.

In terms of improvements, the line-out is most certainly at the top of the list. Poor throwing, poor co-ordination, lack of communication – it all went wrong for England and this is one area that needs serious work. Perhaps the return of first-choice hooker Amy Cokayne and lock Tamara Taylor, who is a leader at the line-out, will go some way to solving these issues, but England cannot have another performance as poor as that one in this tournament.

The scrum didn’t look convincing either, and England nearly lost their own put-in a couple of times save for the quick thinking and handling of Sarah Hunter at Number 8. Of course, the Spanish are no mugs at scrum-time, but the Red Roses will face stronger packs in this tournament and they can’t afford to be shoved off their own ball.

Other than those two areas, the Red Roses can be satisfied with the way they played. Spain did test them at times and despite shipping ten tries, their defence was well-organised and their tackling accurate. It will certainly be interesting to see how they fare against Italy in their match later on in the competition seeing as they were dropped from the Six Nations in favour of the Azzurri.

But the Italians will first have to play against England on Sunday, and while the Red Roses have got off to a good start, there’s still an awful long way to go in this World Cup if they want to be champions once again.

Image credit: BBC

WRWC: Red Roses side to play Spain

England have named their match-day squad ahead of their opening World Cup game against Spain tomorrow.

Sarah Hunter leads a strong side, with full-back Danielle Waterman and centre Rachael Burford set to play in their fourth World Cup, while nine players in the starting line-up are making their debuts in the tournament.

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