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Dublin: 5°C Sunday 7 March 2021

Wilson crosses four times as powerful England lay down an early marker

The defending champions scored 10 tries as they eased past Spain in the tournament opener at UCD.

England were comfortable winners over Spain in the tournament opener.
England were comfortable winners over Spain in the tournament opener.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

England 56

Spain 5

Ryan Bailey reports from the Belfield Bowl, UCD

ANY NOTION OF an upset in the opening game of the Women’s Rugby World Cup was dispelled after just 54 seconds as England, the defending champions, flexed their considerable muscle to lay down an early marker in this tournament.

England were powerfully dominant from the first minute as they ran in 10 tries, including four from winger Kay Wilson, to get their trophy defence up and running in emphatic fashion at a sun-kissed Belfield Bowl.

Simon Middleton’s side, the only full-time outfit in the tournament, will no doubt face far stiffer tests as their campaign progresses but this was a job well done as they utterly outclassed Spain in a one-sided encounter.

From the moment Megan Jones ducked under a weak Spanish tackle and bolted through the gaping hole in the first move of the game, the result was a mere formality as England crossed three more times before the break.

Wilson ran in all three as she continued her prolific scoring form having finished this year’s Six Nations as the tournament’s leading try scorer and the Red Roses were afforded the luxury of simply going through the gears in the second half.

Spain were just no match for the number one ranked side in the world and while the scores of travelling England supporters inside the Bowl were treated to an exhibition from their side, it made for a rather underwhelming start to proceedings on campus.

The second period was a procession and England, who enjoyed 88% of the possession, showed no sign of letting up despite the introduction of their replacements as they added six more tries to the scoreboard, including a fourth for Wilson in the left corner.

Kay Wilson scores a try despite the efforts of Maria Casado and Amaia Erbina Kay Wilson goes over in the corner for the second of her four tries. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Having prepared for this tournament as a professional unit over the last nine months, England’s offloading game was slick and while there is room for improvement with their set-piece and goalkicking, it’s one box ticked ahead of further Pool B assignments against Italy and USA.

Wilson was the standout performer as she caused the Spanish defence untold problems but this England team revolves around the outstanding backrow unit of Harriet Millar-Mills, Izzy Noel-Smith and captain Sarah Hunter.

It is still very early days but on this evidence, England will take some stopping as they look to defend the crown they won in France three years ago.

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In the day’s other Pool B game, USA scored four tries to record a 24-12 victory over Italy.

England scorers:
Tries: Megan Jones, Kay Wilson [4], Emily Scarratt, Harriet Millar-Mills, Alex Matthews, Amy Cokayne, Lydia Thompson.
Conversions: Katy Mclean [2 from 6], Emily Scarratt [1 from 4]
Spain scorers:
Tries: Diana Gasso
Conversions: Patricia Garcia [0 from 1]

ENGLAND: 15, Danielle Waterman, 14. Lydia Thompson, 13. Megan Jones, 12. Rachael Burford, 11. Kay Wilson, 10. Katy Mclean, 9. Leanne Riley; 1. Vickii Cornborough, 2. Heather Kerr, 3. Sarah Bern, 4. Abbie Scott, 5. Zoe Aldcroft, 6. Harriet Millar-Mills, 7. Izzy Noel-Smith, 8. Sarah Hunter (captain).

Replacements: 16. Amy Cokayne, 17. Rochelle Clark, 18. Justine Lucas, 19. Poppy Cleall, 20. Alex Matthews, 21. La Toya Mason, 22. Amber Reed, 23. Emily Scarratt.

SPAIN: 15. Barbara Pla, 14. Maria Casado, 13. Amaia Erbina, 12. Marina Bravo, 11. Iera Echebarria, 10. Patricia Garcia, 9. Anne Fernandez de Corres; 1. Saioa Jaurena, 2. Aroa Gonzalez (captain), 3. Jeanina Vinueza, 4. Berta Garcia, 5. Maria Ribera, 6. Diana Gasso, 7. Paula Medin, 8. Elena Redondo.

16. Isabel Rico, 17. Isabel Macias, 18. Rocio Garcia, 19. Monica Castelo, 20. Angela Del Pan, 21. Maria Ahis, 22. Vanesa Rial, 23. Carlota Meliz.

Referee: Aimee Barrett (South Africa).

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Ryan Bailey

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