England break world record with 25th straight win thanks to 73-7 thrashing of Wales

Sarah Hunter’s team will open their World Cup campaign against Fiji in Auckland on October 8 as overwhelming tournament favourites

Andrew Baldock
Wednesday 14 September 2022 22:31 BST
England recorded a crushing victory (David Davies/PA)
England recorded a crushing victory (David Davies/PA) (PA Wire)

England continued their Women’s Rugby World Cup preparations in landmark fashion as they crushed Wales 73-7 at Ashton Gate.

It was the Red Roses’ 25th successive victory – a feat no Test nation, male or female, had previously accomplished.

They are unbeaten since July 2019, and Sarah Hunter’s team will open their World Cup campaign against Fiji in Auckland on October 8 as clear tournament favourites.

England produced another dominant display in front of an 11,600 crowd, never looking back following first-half tries for centres Helena Rowland and Emily Scarratt, flanker Marlie Packer and full-back Ellie Kildunne.

Scarratt kicked three conversions, while there was also a penalty try after Wales had briefly hauled themselves level through a Gwen Crabb touchdown converted by Elinor Snowsill.

The second half was a similar tale of dominance, as further scores followed for Rowland – who completed her hat-trick with two more tries – Scarratt, Zoe Aldcroft, substitutes Amy Cokayne and Hannah Botterman, with two additional Scarratt conversions giving her a 20-point haul, while Rowland added two conversions and Amber Reed one.

A minute’s silence was held in honour of the Queen, and there was applause and cheers from the crowd after 70 minutes in recognition of the monarch’s 70-year reign. Both teams’ shirts also featured tributes.

The match began at a high tempo with both sides looking to move possession, and Rowland pounced for an opening try after just eight minutes, converted by Scarratt.

Rowland again made short work of Wales’ defence from England’s next attack, but the score was ruled out for obstruction during build-up play.

Wales could easily have gone into their shell, such was the ferocity of England’s opening, yet they hit back with an equalising try after a driven lineout ended with Crabb touching down and Snowsill converting.

An entertaining opening quarter continued at pace, and England struck again following impressive close-quarter work between backs and forwards that created space for Scarratt to claim a try that she also converted.

Wales did not help themselves when flanker Alex Callender was yellow-carded 15 minutes before the interval, and England meted out further punishment as a relentless surge by the forwards ended in Packer touching down and Scarratt again converting.

England lost front-row forward Lark Davies to injury, being replaced by Cokayne, yet it did not finish their forward power as they claimed a 37th-minute penalty try.

With Callender still in the sin-bin, England drove a scrum towards Wales’ line, and when it was illegally collapsed, French referee Aurelie Groizeleau awarded them a seven-pointer.

Wales could not stop a relentless flow of England attacks, and the Red Roses struck again through a Kildunne try, making it 33-7 at half-time.

Cokayne set the second-half ball rolling with England’s sixth try, and Wales were in damage-limitation mode as they faced a gruelling final 35 minutes.

England, in their final competitive workout before the World Cup, moved further clear through Rowland’s second try before a mini brawl broke out that resulted in Groizeleau issuing a general warning to skipper Hunter and her opposite number Carys Williams-Morris.

Scarratt added another try and conversion, and Wales could do nothing to halt the points spree as England moved effortlessly into overdrive.

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