England had needed 26 unanswered second-half points to beat defending Six Nations champions France in round one, but they came storming out of the blocks at Cardiff Arms Park and victory never looked in doubt from the moment Amy Wilson-Hardy went over in the third minute.

Wales simply had no answer to their full-time professional visitors as wave after wave of attack was launched by the world champions, the hosts barely able to get their hands on the ball for long periods of the match.


The Red Roses had wrapped up their first try bonus point inside 22 minutes after winger Wilson-Hardy was followed over the line by hooker Amy Cokayne, scrum-half Natasha Hunt and winger Lydia Thompson (pictured).

But England were in no mood to let up in a match which saw flanker Tamara Taylor join the club of test centurions, and by the time the half-time whistle blew the Red Roses had crossed the line twice more – through impressive fly-half Katy Mclean and captain Sarah Hunter – for a 38-0 advantage.

Thompson grabbed her second within three minutes of the restart and then lively full-back Danielle Waterman, who along with the rest of the back three had tormented Wales all match, grabbed two tries in eight minutes to take her tally to 24 Six Nations tries in 24 appearances in the Championship.

Olympian Wilson-Hardy then grabbed her second before Thompson completed her hat-trick with 13 minutes remaining at the venue that had hosted the first Women’s Rugby World Cup final back in 1991, when England were beaten by the USA.

Wales did enjoy more ball in the final 10 minutes but never truly threatened the English try-line. The win improved England's rating by 0.13 in the World Rugby Women's  Rankings and they remain second, now just under five points behind New Zealand. Wales remain ninth.

Still more to come from England

“To get such a win was brilliant but we’re not the finished product yet,” insisted Taylor. “There are still things for us to work on but we are now beginning to see our potential as a team.”

Coach Simon Middleton added: “We are proud of how we came out and played today. We definitely built on our performance against France and it was a real team effort out there. There are still things for us to work on but it was great to get the clean sheet and keep them from scoring as Wales put up a strong fight, right up to the final whistle.”

While the victory took England to nine points from their opening two matches, it is Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 hosts Ireland who sit top of the standings with 10 points, albeit only after Hannah Tyrrell long-range try with time up on the clock secured their second try bonus point.

Ireland, who scored with the final play of the game to beat Scotland 22-15 in round one, were already assured of victory over Italy in L’Aquila on Sunday when Nora Stapleton’s cross-field kick in her own 22 saw Tyrrell race 80 minutes to score her side’s fourth try.

Two sides had been locked at 3-3 at half-time with Stapleton and Michela Sillari each kicking a penalty in a scrappy first half, but after the break Ireland pounced with three tries in 10 minutes through Leah Lyons, replacement Sophie Spence and captain Paula Fitzpatrick.

With 20 minutes still to play Ireland would have hoped to have the bonus point wrapped up long before Tyrrell, who only returned from Sydney with the Ireland sevens squad earlier in the week, had the final say at the death.  

Ireland remain fifth in the rankings, although the 27-3 win improved their rating by 1.26 points to bring them to within two points of France above. Italy remain 10th, more than six points still above Samoa.

Les Bleues too strong

The other winners in round two were France, who bounced back from the disappointment of their 26-13 loss at Twickenham to overwhelm Scotland 55-0 in the first women’s international match to take place in La Rochelle.

France were the last side beaten by Scotland in the Six Nations – back in February 2010 – but a strong second-half display ensured there would be no repeat of that loss or the second-half display that saw them surrender a 13-0 half-time lead against England.

Number eight Safi N’Diaye delighted the home fans in a crowd of just over 10,000 at the Stade Marcel Deflandre with the opening try in the 18th minute, with further tries from centre Shannon Izar and second-row Lenaig Corson making it 17-0 at the break.

France upped the tempo after the break, spreading play left and right to open up the Scottish defence, with Elodie Poublan scoring with their first chance, the first of six tries Les Bleues would score in 25 minutes to put them totally in control.

Winger Elodie Guiglion crossed in the 46th minute before fly-half Jade le Pesq scored twice in three minutes with Caroline Ladagnous and replacement Camile Cabalou also crossing the line in the emphatic victory. 

This match had no impact on the rankings, a result of the nine places and 18.33 rating points separating France and Scotland in the rankings.

The third round takes place from 24-26 February with two matches set to give a taste of what is to come at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 in August as England take on their Pool B opponents Italy at the Twickenham Stoop and hosts Ireland host their Pool C rivals France at Donnybrook.

The weekend gets underway on the Friday with Wales welcoming Scotland to Cardiff Arms Park.