Kay Wilson wrote her name into the Women's Six Nations history books with a seven-try haul as the Red Roses set up a Grand Slam decider with Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 hosts Ireland by overwhelming Scotland 64-0 at the Twickenham Stoop on Saturday.
Wilson was already the first player to score four first-half tries in the Championship's history before she surpassed French star Elodie Poublan's record of five, which was also set against Scotland back in 2011.
She isn't the first to score seven tries in women's rugby history, though, as former Dutch winger Kelly van Harskamp crossed for seven tries against Belgium in a Women's Rugby World Cup 2010 qualifying match in 2009.
Wilson's team-mate Amy Cokayne also crossed for a hat-trick in the victory – the second Red Roses hooker to score three tries after Vicky Fleetwood's haul in round three against Italy – while Caroline Ladagnous grabbed a brace in their 28-5 defeat of Italy on Sunday.
The weekend's other match saw Ireland battle past a determined Wales side to triumph 12-7 at Cardiff Arms Park, leaving them one point behind England in the standings but with a far inferior points difference, meaning they must win when the sides meet in Dublin on Friday.
None of the matches resulted in any positional changes in the World Rugby Women's Rankings, although France and Ireland both improved their ratings on the back of their victories.
Wilson opened the scoring for England as early as the third minute after a pass from Emily Scarratt and quickly added a second just minutes later. Cokayne then crossed for two tries of her own to wrap up the bonus point by the 20th minute.
Full-back Danielle Waterman then crossed for her 25th try in 25 Six Nations matches before Wilson claimed two tries and Cokayne completed her own hat-trick before referee Sean Gallagher blew the whistle for half-time.
Wilson began the second half just as she had the first with a quick try and by the hour mark her sixth to break the previous Championship record, four of them coming from assists by Scarratt.
Centre Scarratt then got on the scoreboard herself with a try near the posts, enabling her to land a first conversion of the day – having missed her previous 10 attempts from out wide – to cheers from the Twickenham Stoop crowd.
There was still time for one final try from Wilson, which Scarratt converted for a 64-0 final score.
Magnificent— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) 11 March 2017
Kay Wilson scores her seventh try of the match. https://t.co/t9MxOP1G3G
“It’s pretty amazing, I didn’t think I’d ever score three tries in a match let alone seven. It’s a credit to the team, I was out wide and the girls found me out there so I’m really proud of the team.”
England coach Simon Middleton added: “We’re thrilled with that performance. We had a clear picture about what we wanted to do, to play with intensity and tempo, and we delivered that for the most part.
“It’s winner takes all against Ireland next week and that will be a totally different game which we’ve got to be prepared for. We’re under no illusions of how tough it’s going to be but if there’s ever a game you’d want to play as a rugby player it would be next week.”
Ireland hang in for victory
Wales, unlike their previous home match against England, were on the front foot from the first whistle, determined to use the emotion from the tributes paid to their former team-mate Elli Norkett before kick-off to fire their play against a side they had beaten in a warm-up match in January.
The visiting defence was constantly under pressure with Wales using their maul to good effect and enjoying dominance in the scrums, but they were unable to turn that into points on the scoreboard and instead it was Ireland who opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time.
A strong drive from a lineout was well controlled by Ireland and prop Lindsay Peat pealed off the back to power over the line, fly-half Nora Stapleton adding the conversion to send the visitors in with a 7-0 half-time lead.
The Welsh response was swift and within three minutes of the game resuming they had finally breached the Irish defence.
A great run from full-back Dyddgu Hywel took play into the Irish 22 and Peat was penalised for hands in the ruck and was sent to the sin-bin. In her absence, Wales were held up over the line once before their impressive number eight Shona Powell-Hughes made no mistake a second time.
Robyn Wilkins tied the scores with her conversion and it would be another yellow card that would prove a turning point in the match, Wales' Amy Evans taking a break after a high tackle in the 53rd minute.
Ireland upped the pressure and were held up over the line once before captain Paula Fitzpatrick thought she had scored, only for the TMO to rule that Welsh scrum-half Keira Bevan had somehow got a hand under the ball to prevent the grounding. It proved only a temporary respite, though, as winger Hannah Tyrrell found a way over just before Evans returned to the field.
Stapleton couldn't add the conversion and while both sides battled hard, there was to be no further score and Ireland therefore return home with their Grand Slam dreams alive.
Les Bleues return to winning ways
Defending champions France, meanwhile, picked up their second bonus point win of the Championship in Parma, although the match was not as one-sided as the scoreline may suggest with Italy having the same problem as Wales and being unable to turn possession into points.
Ladagnous crossed for Les Bleues' first try following a great break by second-row Audrey Forlani and, after a penalty by Audrey Abadie, they added a second try through flanker Romane Ménager to stretch their advantage to 13-0 after 20 minutes.
Elodie Poublan sent her fellow centre Ladagnous over for her second try just before the half hour mark and then wrapped up the bonus point herself on the stroke of half-time to give Les Bleues a commanding 25-0 lead.
Another Abadie penalty increased that cushion but chances were few and far between after that with Italy continuing to cause France problems. Their efforts were finally rewarded when, with 10 minutes to go, they drove their way over the line with replacement front row Michele Este emerging with the ball.
Les Bleues, who sit third in the standings on 11 points, will now welcome Wales to Brive on Saturday for the final match of the 2017 Championship, a day after Scotland host Italy in Cumbernauld and the Grand Slam decider between Ireland and England in Dublin.