England continued their perfect start to the Women's Six Nations after a 51-12 bonus-point win against Wales on Sunday at Cardiff Arms Park, while, in the two Saturday matches, Italy continued their unbeaten start to the competition with only their second win over Ireland – and their first in the Women’s Six Nations – and France beat Scotland 41-10.
With two rounds left to play, England are top of the table with 15 points from 15, three clear of Italy and a further point in front of reigning champions France.
Neither England nor France, ranked second and third in the World Rugby Women's Rankings, gained any reward from a rankings perspective as they were playing opposition with a significantly lower rating than them, but the Azzurre picked up a fraction over half a point for their historic win. They remain in seventh, still 2.48 points behind Australia.
At this rate, England appear to be as unstoppable as their prolific winger Jess Breach, who continued her fine record of scoring in every international with two more in the Welsh capital. Sarah Bern, who started the scoring spree in the second minute, also bagged a brace, while the Red Roses’ other tries came from Marlie Packer, Catherine O’Donnell, Sarah Beckett and Katy Daley-Mclean.
Wales hadn’t scored a try in the first two rounds, but Jess Kavanagh and Cerys Hale went over at the end of each half to break the drought.
Fifty up for France
England have now scored an impressive 24 tries in three games, four more than France who crossed the line on seven occasions as they chalked up their 50th win in the history of the Women’s Six Nations.
Gabriele Vernier led the way with a hat-trick with Pauline Bourdon, Doriane Constanty, Caroline Boujard and Ian Jason also getting on the scoresheet to keep Les Bleues' title hopes alive. Rhona Lloyd and Emma Wassell scored for Scotland.
One conversion was all that separated Italy from Ireland in Parma, the Azzurre coming out on top 29-27.
Italy had only conceded one try in their opening two matches but three were scored at both ends in a frenetic first half in Parma, with Michela Sillari and Nicole Fowley also kicking eight points at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.
Eimear Considine scored twice for the Irish and she was followed over the line by Anna Caplice with Italy’s tries coming from Aura Muzzo, Giada Franco and Sofia Stefan.
Franco scored again for Italy 10 minutes into the second half and Sillari tagged on the conversion. Laura Sheehan responded with a fourth try for the visitors, but Fowley was unable to add the all-important conversion to leave Ireland two points short.
Home comforts for Spain
Spain made it an unhappy return to international rugby for Russia, who fell to a 41-0 defeat in their first test since October 2016.
Seven different players got their names on the scoresheet in Madrid as Las Leonas extended their unbeaten home record which dates back to 2014.
No rating points were awarded to them for the victory, though, due to the large points differential between the sides, but it does put them through to the final of the Rugby Europe Women's Championship. The other semi-final between Germany and the Netherlands will be played on 9 March.