England kept their Six Nations Grand Slam hopes on track with a 59-3 bonus-point victory over Wales at a sold-out Cardiff Arms Park, where the hosts celebrated a record 8,862 attendance for women’s home match.
The four-time defending champions’ strength in depth was on full display on an afternoon that saw each of the Red Roses’ nine tries come through different scorers.
Lucy Packer, Tatyana Heard, Abigail Dow, Holly Aitchison, Jess Breach, Ellie Kildunne, Maud Muir, Hannah Botterman and Sarah Beckett all touched down for the visitors, with Emma Sing and Lagi Tuima adding seven conversions between them.
However, that proved to be Wales’ only points of the game as England hit back in emphatic fashion.
The Red Roses took the lead in the 26th minute when Dow broke down the left and crossed into the hosts’ 22 before being brought down just shy of the try line, but Packer was able to scoop up the ball from the ensuing breakdown and twist over the line.
Heard helped make it 12-3 before an exquisite pass from Aitchison set Dow up on a fine run from midfield, the Harlequins winger crossing the whitewash on the 40-minute mark before Sing’s conversion left the resilient hosts – who had enjoyed both a possession and territorial advantage – trailing 19-3 at the break.
Aitchison quickly added her name to the list of England’s try-scorers to secure the bonus point after the restart, when the floodgates firmly opened for the Red Roses who – despite going down to 13 women after May Campbell and Marlie Packer were sent to the sin-bin in the 67th minute – went on to complete a comprehensive victory.