England 55 Wales 0
Gary Street’s side, aiming to secure an unprecedented third consecutive Grand Slam win in six nations history, ran in a massive nine tries and also slammed the door firmly shut on their rivals. The win hands England their seventh victory in eight outings on the bounce where they have not conceded a single point.
Saracens centre Claire Allan was at the forefront of England’s attack and claimed a hat-trick of tries, while Saracen teammate Charlotte Barras, England captain Catherine Spencer, Lichfield’s Sarah Hunter, Wasps duo Michaela Staniford and Jane Leonard and Worcester’s Katherine Merchant all added to the score sheet.
England started the game well, putting immediate pressure on Wales but the visitors held out until the 20 minute when fullback Barras broke England’s duck. The Saracens flyer made the most of some good work by England which saw the ball passed through Amy Turner, Katy McLean and Rachel Burford before Barras pounced on the ball to dive over the line. McLean converted.
Seven minutes later and skipper Spencer had her chance. With England camped in Wales’ 22, England’s strong pack drove forward and Spencer broke away on the open-side to muscle her way over the line.
On 30 minutes flanker Hunter put England 17-0 up when Wales crumbled under the pressure of another high ball, which their fullback Non Evans failed to secure. Staniford instead took possession before popping out the ball to Hunter. McLean was again successful with the conversion.
Centre Allan then rounded off the first-half with her first touchdown of the afternoon after a great phase of play by England. Clifton’s Danielle Waterman made a good break, setting up a series of passes between McLean, Hunter and Maggie Alphonsi. The ball was then recycled after a lovely touch by Burford which saw her help put away Allan for a 24-0 lead at the break.
After the restart the one way traffic continued and Allan started off where she had left off claiming her second try. Again the pack were at the forefront driving the ball forward deep into Wales’ 22. The ball was then recycled out to the left wing with Barras feeding Allan who side-stepped her way through Wales’ defence to score. McLean added conversion number three.
On 56 minutes Staniford made the most of some great play from England and when the ball was cleared from the ruck England again had their chances and Staniford touched down to take the home side 36 points clear.
England then rolled on the substitutes and they played their part. A break by replacement fly-half Alice Richardson set pacey centre Allan free on the left wing and she touched down with ease to claim her hat-trick.
Richardson missed the conversion but she was soon successful with the boot. The Richmond number 10 converted a 66th minute try for replacement Kat Merchant, who rounded off a fantastic 50 metre try for England that saw three players involved before Merchant made the try line. Backrow replacement Jane Leonard then had the final say for England with a 73rd minute try that saw Wales unable to stop the powerful Army and Wasps player making the final score 55-0.
England Head Coach Street said: “We are very pleased with this performance. It’s a great way to start the six nations. Wales had talked up what they were going to do to us all week where as we did our talking on the pitch. We have now played seven games out of eight without conceding a single point and I think that speaks volumes about our defence while our attack is also firing on all cylinders with nine tries here today.
“The next game is against Italy away and that is going to be a tough match. They gave us a hard game at Twickenham a year ago in this championship and we will be expecting more of the same on Saturday in Rome.”
1 Rochelle Clark (Henley), 2 Amy Garnett (Saracens), 3 Katy Storie (Blaydon), 4 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 5 Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps), 6 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield), 7 Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens), 8 Catherine Spencer (C) (Worcester), 9 Amy Turner (Richmond), 10 Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 11 Michaela Staniford (Wasps), 12 Rachael Burford (Saracens), 13 Claire Allan (Saracens), 14 Danielle Waterman (Clifton), 15 Charlotte Barras (Saracens). Replacements: 16 Emma Layland (Richmond), 17 Sophie Hemming (Clifton), 18 Sarah Beale (Leos), 19 Jane Leonard (Wasps/Army), 20 Alice Richardson (Richmond), 21 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 22 Victoria Massarella (Saracens)
Tries: Barras (20), Spencer (27), Hunter (30), Allan (35, 46, 63), Staniford (56), Merchant (66), Leonard (73).
Conversions: McLean (3), Richardson (2).
Substitutions: Layland for Garnett, Richardson for McLean, Beale for McGilchrist, Massarella for Barras, Merchant for Waterman (all 56 mins), Hemming for Clark (67), Leonard for Alphonsi (67)
1 Louise Horgan, 2 Rhian Bowden, 3 Jenny Davies, 4 Gemma Hallett, 5 Claire Donovan, 6 Catrina Nicholas, 7 Nicola Evans, 8 Mellissa Berry (C), 9 Amy Day, 10 Naomi Thomas, 11 Hayley Baxter, 12 Clare Flowers (VC), 13 Rachel Poolman, 14 Louise Rickard, 15 Non Evans. Replacements: 16 Claire Horgan, 17 Ruth Evans, 18 Rachel Taylor, 19 Jenny Doyle, 20 Laura Prosser, 21 Awen Thomas, 22 Michaela Reed.
Referee: Christine Bigaran
Touch judge 1: Paul Stanley
Touch judge 2: Deborah Innes
Assessor: David Warren
Number 4: Ed Turnill
– but the sailors praise the new boats