|Women’s Six Nations: Wales v England|
|Team A: (5) 12|
|Tries: Kavanagh, Hale Cons: Wilkins|
|Team B: (29) 51|
|Tries: Bern 2, Breach 2, Packer, O’Donnell, Dow, Beckett, Daley-Mclean Cons: Harrison 3|
England remain on course to win the Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam after an emphatic nine-try victory over Wales.
Prop Sarah Bern and wing Jess Breach scored two tries each and flanker Marlie Packer crossed too as England claimed a bonus point after 26 minutes.
England’s Catherine O’Donnell, Abbie Dow, Sarah Beckett and Katy Daley-McLean all scored in the second half.
Wales’ first try of the 2019 Six Nations came from wing Jess Kavanagh and Cerys Hale added their second.
England are top of the table, having claimed also five points against both Ireland and France in the first two rounds, and now prepare to host Italy, the only other unbeaten side in the competition, on 9 March.
“We’re definitely not taking a Grand Slam for granted – you can never do that. It’s too valuable,” said England head coach Simon Middleton.
England, awarded full-time contracts in January, are the only fully professional side in the Women’s Six Nations and have scored 24 tries so far.
Wales are fifth after losing to France and drawing against Italy and travel to Scotland for their penultimate match of the tournament on 8 March.
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Wales feel the Bern
Player of the match Bern led the charge for England’s forwards from the outset, repelling defenders whenever she had the ball in hand, and the 21-year-old barrelled through five Wales players to score in the second minute.
The dominance of England’s pack was evident again, with a maul from a line-out easily driving Wales back and allowing Packer to score.
Shortly later, Bern again scythed through defenders to score under the posts.
In the second half, it looked as though the prop would get a hat-trick as she drove over the line, but she could not ground the ball and left the field shortly after.
O’Donnell soon made amends as England’s pack pushed the lock over the try line before fellow forward Beckett showed her pace to tear through defenders and add her name to the scoresheet.
Wales’ pack did get some consolation though, after a pick and go from Hale saw her score minutes before the full-time whistle.
Breach’s tally grows
Wing Jess Breach has scored in every round of this year’s Six Nations and now has five tries in total in the competition.
When England found themselves with a five-player overlap on the left wing, it was Breach who went over.
The Harlequins wing took a high ball well to dot down again, but the try was disallowed because of an earlier knock-on by Natasha Hunt.
And, after deft offloading from Daley-McLean, Zoe Harrison and Rachael Burford in the midfield, Breach opted to go it alone for her second try of the match.
Wales’ Kavanagh also impressed on the opposite wing, showing sublime footwork to claim five points.
Dow ensured she got her share of the limelight on the wing too, covering almost half the pitch to score in the corner on her first appearance in this year’s tournament.
England looked threatening in the 22 right up to the final whistle and Daley-McLean capitalised to score the Red Roses’ ninth and final try.
Welsh making improvements
England beat Wales 63-0 in 2017 and 52-0 in 2018 and Wales head coach Rowland Phillips highlighted the improved scoreline this year.
“The key thing is I sat here two years ago when we’d been on the back of 80 minutes where we’d struggled to get any control,” he said.
“It was a competitive game of rugby today, we’ve done a lot of work under the radar and the physicality of the players has improved a lot.”
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