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England’s World Cup off to flying start with 10-try win

Two tries apiece for Kat Merchant, Lydia Thompson, Natasha Hunt and Kay Wilson

England kicked off their Women’s Rugby World Cup campaign with a 65-3 10-try romp over Samoa in Marcoussis, France.

Two tries each for Kat Merchant, Lydia Thompson, Natasha Hunt and Kay Wilson and one apiece for La Toya Mason and Emily Scarratt set England on the way to victory, Scarratt also kicking 15 points.

After a tight opening period, the game turned when Samoa’s full-back Soteria Pulumu was red-carded after a nasty looking tip-tackle on Hunt. Scarratt slotted over the resulting penalty to put England’s first points on the board.

England’s opening try came from Merchant, who showed some quick feet before diving over the line, and she soon had her second – her 43rd for England – when going over in the 24th minute.

Thompson also showed great pace for England’s third, racing in from at least 60 metres, and the Worcester wing had her second try after 35 minutes, before Hunt spotting a gap to make it 34-0.

Samoa gave as good as they got in the opening exchanges of the second half, but a piece of magic from Hunt broke the deadlock before Wilson scored minutes later to make it 46-0. Replacement scrum-half Mason scored England’s eighth try before Maggie Alphonsi found Scarratt who raced in for her first.

At 60-0 down, Samoa got their first points on the board with a penalty from Bella Milo but Wilson added her second try to end the scoring.

England No 8 Sarah Hunter said: “We’ve been itching to get on to the pitch and we’re pleased to get the campaign under  way with a good win – we wanted to play with width and tempo and we definitely did that at times. Samoa put the pressure on us, they were big and physical and played with real heart, but we’ll review the game and look to improve before we play Spain.”