England remain on course to win a record seventh successive RBS Women’s Six Nations title after beating Wales – the only team to beat them in the competition during this run of glory – 33-0 at Twickenham on Saturday.
The title favourites ran in six tries through Michael Staniford (2), Emily Scarratt, Kay Wilson, Sarah Hunter and player of the match Rowena Burnfield to preserve their unbeaten record at the home of English rugby.
England have now conceded just three points in their three matches to date – a penalty by Italy fly half Veronica Schiavon – and scored 123, with unbeaten France away and Ireland at home standing between them and another crown.
“I am really pleased with this performance,” said England coach Gary Street. “Wales made us work hard for this victory, bringing passion and determination to the game and they tried very hard to stop our players in their tracks.
“At half-time when we were leading 13-0 we spoke about improving our discipline, to stop giving away so many penalties and to be more patience. When we started to do that the points came.
“We have now got two weeks to prepare for our penultimate game against France and really look at ourselves and analyse the French. With both teams unbeaten this is going to be a titanic battle but we are going to make sure we are ready for that challenge.”
Wales, who stunned England with a 16-15 win in 2009, must now regroup to face Ireland this weekend in their rearranged first round encounter which was abandoned with the Irish leading 10-3 at half time due to freezing conditions.
First win for Ireland
A victory on Irish soil would be a confidence boost for Wales as they bid to secure one of two places at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 through the Six Nations. The top two teams, aside from already qualified England and France, across the 2012 and 2013 Championships will confirm their places.
Wales and Ireland secured these places for WRWC 2010 and will be favourites to do so again for the 2014 tournament in France, leaving Scotland and Italy to join the highest ranked teams in Europe and a team from Oceania in a qualification tournament in 2013.
Ireland picked up their first win of the campaign in emphatic fashion, scoring six tries in the process of overwhelming Italy 40-10 at Ashbourne RFC to bounce back from the disappointment of losing 8-7 in France a fortnight earlier.
Marie Louise Reilly set the ball rolling with a fifth minute try with Niamh Kavanagh touching down in each half and Joy Neville, Amy Davis and Jennifer Murphy also getting their names on the score sheet to the delight of the home crowd.
France are the only other unbeaten team in the Six Nations after beating Scotland 23-0 in the first women’s international to be staged in Stirling, a much closer affair than last year when Elodie Poublan scored five tries as France ran out convincing 53-3 winners.
Scotland coach Karen Findlay admitted to definitely seeing an improvement on their previous defeats by England and Wales, but their inability to deal with the catch and drive from the lineout proved costly with three of France’s four tries coming from that form of attack.
Aida Ba, Cyrielle Bouisset, Gaelle Mignot and Marine de Nadai all touched down for France and the margin of victory at Bridgehaugh Park could have been bigger had fly half Aurélie Bailon managed to convert any of her side’s tries.