Rugby

England brush aside Wales to continue perfect start to Six Nations

A crowd of 19,700 watched the action at Ashton Gate.

England’s Hannah Botterman (centre right) celebrates her try .
England’s Hannah Botterman (centre right) celebrates her try England’s Hannah Botterman (centre right) celebrates her try . (David Davies/PA)

England recorded a second successive bonus-point victory in this season’s Guinness Six Nations as they brushed aside Wales 46-10 at Ashton Gate.

The Red Roses’ pursuit of a sixth title on the bounce continued as they backed up a 48-0 victory over Italy with another try spree.

Watched by a crowd of 19,700 – England’s biggest attendance for a home game outside of Twickenham – Marlie Packer’s team claimed first-half touchdowns from props Maud Muir and Hannah Botterman, hooker Lark Atkin-Davies and lock Zoe Aldcroft.

Holly Aitchison kicked two conversions and, while Wales briefly held the advantage through a Lleucu George penalty, they had a mountain to climb in the second period.

That challenge soon became way too much as quickfire tries from full-back Ellie Kildunne and wing Abby Dow took England past 30 points and confirmed a 39th victory in 41 Tests against Wales since fixtures began between the two sides.

Replacement Keira Bevan touched down for Wales, with George converting, but further England tries followed through lock Rosie Galligan and Kildunne, whose second score matched her double against Italy last weekend, while Aitchison landed one further conversion.

England head coach John Mitchell handed first starts of the Six Nations campaign to Tatyana Heard and Natasha Hunt, but back-row forward Sarah Beckett began a three-match ban after being sent off against Italy.

Maud Muir’s try set England on their way .
Maud Muir's try set England on their way Maud Muir’s try set England on their way . (David Davies/PA)

Mitchell’s opposite number Ioan Cunningham also rang the changes, yet Wales’ preparations were dealt a blow when prolific try-scoring wing Jasmine Joyce withdrew due to a hamstring strain. Lisa Neumann replaced her in the starting line-up.

George kicked Wales into a sixth-minute lead, but England’s response proved swift and decisive as Muir touched down following a thrilling break by Dow.

England were quickly on the front foot again following a bright start by Wales and quality lineout possession underpinned a try for Aldcroft, meaning that she marked her 50th cap in style.

Aitchison’s conversion made it 12-3 and, although Wales battled hard up front, they were undone by a length-of-the-field attack that led to England’s third try.

England’s Abby Dow makes a break .
England's Abby Dow makes a break England’s Abby Dow makes a break . (David Davies/PA)

Centre Megan Jones was the catalyst, showing great pace as she surged deep inside Wales’ half before quickly-recycled ball saw Botterman charge over. Aitchison’s conversion opened up a 16-point advantage after 24 minutes.

England were on the hunt for a bonus point as the interval approached and it almost arrived when Aitchison kicked to the corner, but Dow narrowly failed to touch down.

Wales then saw their scrum obliterated, allowing England an attacking lineout from the resulting penalty, and pressure inevitably told with a try for hooker Atkin-Davies as the Red Roses took a 24-3 lead into the break.

Kildunne and Dow then put England out of sight and, although Bevan claimed a deserved consolation score for Wales, normal service was resumed through England touchdowns from Galligan and Kildunne.