Thirteen-try England power past South Africa

Dominant pack lays the platform for a big England win that sets up a quarter-final meeting with Australia.

Rosie Galligan and Connie Powell scored hat-tricks as England marched into the quarter-finals as third seeds after a big 75-0 win over South Africa.

Simon Middleton’s side took their winning run to 27 matches and will now face Australia in the last eight, while South Africa return home after finishing bottom of Pool C.

The dominant English pack accounted for all bar one of their tries, with Poppy Cleall and replacement flanker Sadia Kabeya both bagging a brace of tries apiece and Marlie Packer dotting down in her first test as Red Roses captain.

Had Galligan not had a fourth try disallowed late on and 16 points not gone begging through missed conversions, England would have surpassed the record 84 points they put on Fiji in their opening fixture.

Despite going into the match as overwhelming underdogs, South Africa started brightly with ever-impressive number eight Aseza Hele and winger Nomawethu Mabenge making penetrating runs inside the England 22. But it was England who scored first when Galligan called an attacking lineout to herself and dotted down from a rolling maul in the sixth minute.

With the penalty count rising against them, South Africa came under increasing pressure but they appeared to have managed the 10 minutes Catha Jacobs was in the sin-bin brilliantly.

Jacobs had been shown the yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Cleall and it was the number eight who ensured England finally capitalised on their numerical advantage a minute before the Springbok Women were back up to their full complement of players. 

From that moment onwards, it was all England. Galligan got her second approaching the half-hour mark before tries from Shaunagh Brown and fellow front-row Connie Powell – and a second yellow card to captain Nolusindiso Booi – added to South Africa’s woes.

England turned around 29-0 up and wasted no time in turning the screw further, Powell getting her second within a minute of the restart before nice interplay with Cleall saw Packer go over on 51 minutes.

Centre Tatyana Heard had a hand in the next three tries in an impressive showing in midfield as Galligan’s hat-trick was followed up by a second for Cleall and the first of Kabeya’s two tries.

Winger Abby Dow finally broke the forwards’ monopoly on scoring in the 64th minute when she crossed in acres of space out wide for her 24th try in 27 tests.

But normal service soon resumed with Powell claiming her hat-trick and Kabeya getting another from close range.

Sarah Bern’s yellow card for a dangerous tackle in the final minute was the only blemish for an England team that will take some stopping, particularly upfront.

Last updated: Oct 23, 2022, 8:21:49 AM
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