Player-of-the-match Helena Rowland made an emphatic case to be named in England’s Rugby World Cup 2021 squad next Tuesday, the inside centre scoring a hat-trick of tries as the Red Roses ran amok against Wales.
England scored 11 tries in total against the visitors from across the Severn Bridge as they extended their winning run to a record 25 tests.
Rowland feels that the team has yet to realise its full potential which is bad news for their forthcoming opponents at Rugby World Cup 2021, where they will start as overwhelming favourites to lift the trophy.
“The way the squad is going, we’re still on the up,” said the Loughborough Lightning star. “We’re definitely not the finished article which is what is really exciting. But to be part of that 25-match winning run is pretty incredible and, I think, maybe not something any of us ever thought would happen. But yeah, it is an unbelievable journey to be on.”
Turning on the style
England ran out 58-5 winners when the sides met in round three of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations 2022 in April, but improved on that margin in front of an ecstatic crowd of 11,691 in Bristol.
After a fairly even opening quarter which brought a converted try for either side – Rowland for England and Gwen Crabb for Wales – England asserted their authority.
Emily Scarratt converted her own try and then made it three kicks from three by turning Marlie Packer’s try into seven points.
By now Wales were down to 14 players having lost Alex Callender to the sin-bin, and England capitalised to score two more tries before the break – one a penalty try awarded by referee Aurélie Groizeleau at scrum-time with the other scored by Ellie Kildunne.
England turned around in front by 26 points and they started the second half as they finished the first with a try, this time for Amy Cokayne.
Minutes after scoring one, Cokayne assisted another, with Rowland on the end of her offload to score her second.
Scarratt joined her in scoring a brace and was followed over by Rowland for her hat-trick try as England led 59-7.
Further tries from Hannah Botterman and Alex Matthews rubbed further salt into the Welsh wounds.
England did not pick up any additional points in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini as a result of the win, meaning their lead over New Zealand at the top remains at 7.21 points.
New Zealand have one final run-out before they host Rugby World Cup 2021, against Japan at Eden Park in Auckland on 24 September.
Eden Park also hosts the opening match of Rugby World Cup 2021 when South Africa play France on 8 October.