England 31 – 0 Wales
England Women made a flying start to the defence of their Six Nations crown with a 31-0 victory over Wales at Esher RFC.
Heather Fisher’s first ever international try after just five minutes started the scoring and Wales struggled to get any momentum, failing to even venture into their opponent’s 22-metre area.
Good build up play culminated in a long run by centre Emily Scarratt, who was in imperious form throughout.
After a penetrating run from Scarratt, she flicked the ball inside to find Fisher who touched down. England had to wait just 20 minutes for their next try but could have already grabbed a second beforehand.
After more good passing, the ball found its way to Scarratt who drew the last Welsh defender before finding Katherine Merchant on the overlap, who scored.
Scarratt grabbed her deserved try with the last play of the first half, collecting a pass from Katy McLean and finding plenty of space between two Wales defenders.
McLean missed the first two difficult conversions but found her range with the last kick of the half to give her side a commanding 17-point lead at the break.
The visitors were reduced to 14 players twice, either side of the third try as Catrina Nicholas and Hannah Roberts were shown the yellow card but made it difficult for England early in the second half.
It took Gary Street’s side a while to get a foothold in the second period but the fourth try was created superbly.
Fiona Pocock took the ball down the wing at speed before two Wales defenders tried bundling her into touch, but the winger offloaded well to Scarratt who, in turn brilliantly found McLean who burst for the line before converting her first ever try for England.
It capped a great performance from Scarratt, who assisted three tries and scored one but was not involved in the final one.
The last score for England came from a line out as the ball found its way to Rochelle Clark who forced the ball over the line and ensured England started the tournament with a bang.
Last year Wales claimed their first triple-crown with a 16-15 victory over England at Taffs Well and Richmond player Alice Richardson sees this win as revenge.
“They beat us last year with the last play of the game and I think that cut us pretty deep and we came out here to get some revenge but most of all we wanted to put in a good performance and I think we did that,” Richardson said.
“It is exactly what we wanted, a good win at home to Wales who are one of the top sides in Europe. It is hard for [revenge] not to be [in the back of your mind].”
“It was an unexpected loss for us last year and we wanted to put things right this year,” she added.
England will travel to Noceto, Parma to take on Italy next week before hosting Ireland back at Esher RFC.
England: Claire Allan, Katherine Merchant, Emily Scarratt, Rachael Burford, Fiona Pocock, Katy McLean, La Toya Mason, Claire Purdy, Amy Garnett, Sophie Hemming, Rebecca Essex, Joanna McGilchrist, Heather Fisher, Margaret Alphonsi, Catherine Spencer (C). Replacements: Samantha Reeve, Rochelle Clark, Rowena Burnfield, Tamara Taylor, Georgina Rozario, Alice Richardson, Michaela Staniford
Scorers: Fisher, Merchant, Scarratt, McLean, Clark. Conversions: McLean (3)
Wales: Non Evans, Aimee Young, Naomi Thomas, Clare Flowers, Caryl James, Awen Thomas, Amy Day, Catrin Edwards, Jenny Davies, Hannah Roberts, Gemma Hallett, Rachel Taylor, Catrina Nicholas, Jamie Kift, Mellissa Berry (C). Replacements: Clare Horgan, Becky Newton, Claire Donovan, Louise Horgan, Laura Prosser, Elinor Snowsill, Ceri Redman
By David Brenchley
photos Janos Schmidt