|England: (19) 58|
|Tries: Davies 2, Ward, Breach 2, Bern, Matthews, Brown, Scarratt, Hunter Cons: Harrison 4|
|Wales: (0) 5|
England thrashed a brave but ultimately out-gunned Wales to claim another Women’s Six Nations bonus-point win in front of a record crowd at Kingsholm.
Wales at first put up a stern challenge but, after Abby Dow went off with what looked like a World Cup-threatening injury, Lark Davies opened the scoring.
Wales’ Kelsey Jones went over in the second half, but England were clinical as ever as they racked up 10 tries.
The crowd of 14,689 is a record for an England ticketed home game.
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It surpasses the previous mark of 13,253, set at the Twickenham Stoop for the 2010 World Cup final.
The victory in front of a jubilant Kingsholm crowd was England’s 21st win in a row and they remain at the top of the Six Nations table as they chase a fourth successive title.
Wales are third in the table after two opening wins but it is the fifth game in a row England have scored more than 50 points against them.
England eventually escape Welsh stranglehold
With England three years further along the path of professionalism than Wales – who recently awarded 12 full-time contracts for the first time – few would dare to predict a Welsh win in Gloucester.
But the visitors stifled their opposition in the first half as England squandered attacking line-outs and were repeatedly beaten at the breakdown.
The Welsh intensity was reflected in a tackle by number eight Sioned Harries – making her first Wales start since 2019 – on Marlie Packer as the England flanker was slammed to the floor.
Rather than repeating the slick offloads that helped them rack up 21 tries in their opening two games, England seemed determined to make use of their kicking game.
It did not initially pay dividends as Wales full-back Kayleigh Powell ran back at the white wall and sliced past Jess Breach and through Packer towards England’s 22.
Then the Kingsholm crowd was quieted as full-back Dow – one of England’s standout performers in recent years – went down in an awkward tackle and was taken off on a stretcher before being driven to hospital after receiving lengthy treatment on the pitch.
It looked like a leg injury potentially serious enough to keep her out of October’s World Cup – a devastating blow for Dow and England.
Perhaps galvanised by a desire to perform for their team-mate and friend, once play eventually restarted England immediately hauled a maul over the tryline for Davies’ opening score.
Having taken no longer than eight minutes to score in their opening two games, that it took 16 to get over is testament to Wales’ defensive efforts.
With Wales still challenging at the breakdown, England managed to cross again as Abbie Ward dived over from short range.
Eventually England made use of their backs too and after a series of swift offloads Jess Breach stepped round Powell to score.
England’s clinical edge shines through
Although the visitors showed dogged determination, the scoreline suggests they will require more investment from the Welsh Rugby Union if they are to reach England’s heights.
England’s clinical edge came out in all its sharpness after the break as Davies went over in another maul and Sarah Bern repeatedly bulldozed her way over the gainline.
Bern and her fellow forwards soon dragged in enough defenders to make space for Breach to walk in for a second on the right.
The England machine trundled on as Bern once more emulated a wing to run round defenders and across the tryline before a yellow card for Wales’ Natalia John spelled further danger.
The Red Roses forwards again confused themselves for backs as a bullet pass found Abbie Ward and the lock’s offload sent Alex Matthews speeding over to score.
Wales eventually made it over too – no small achievement given England had only conceded one try in their first two games – as Jones broke free from a maul to score.
As has become a trademark for England this Six Nations, the tries poured in during the final 10 minutes.
Replacement prop Shaunagh Brown went over, then Emily Scarratt and finally captain Sarah Hunter bounced through the middle of the breakdown to bring their try tally into double figures.
Player of the match – Abbie Ward
Wales: Powell; Neumann, Jones, Lake, Joyce; Wilkins, Lewis; Pyrs, Phillips, Rose, Tuipulotu, Crabb, Lillicrap (capt), Butchers, Harries.
Replacements: Jones, Hope, Hale, Callender, Lewis, Bevan, Snowsill, John.
England: Dow; Breach, Scarratt, Rowland, McKenna; Harrison, L Packer; Cornborough, Davies, Bern, Cleall, Ward, Matthews, M Packer, Hunter (capt).
Replacements: Powell, Muir, Brown, Galligan, Fleetwood, Hunt, Reed, Kildunne.