England Women opened their 2018 Six Nations campaign with a bonus-point win against Italy as the Red Roses ran in seven tries in Reggio Emilia in a 42-7 victory.
Sarah Bern crossed off the back of an impressive driving maul for England to open the scoring after six minutes, but Italy were level just before half-time when Valentina Ruzza went over from close range, as the game was finely poised at 7-7.
England pulled away after the break with fly half Katy Daley-Mclean’s simple penalty starting the scoring as the Red Roses regained the lead.
Captain Sarah Hunter was at the back of another maul and collapsed over the line, before Poppy Cleall finished a flowing move on the right for England’s third.
Abigail Dow scored her sixth try in three caps for the bonus-point score, Hunter’s second came off a powerful short run, Ellie Kildunne burst through for the sixth before Hunter scored her hat-trick off the back of a disrupted scrum.
Simon Middleton, England head coach today said: “Not the start we wanted, we were ill disciplined in certain areas of the game and we forced play, we made too many errors and didn’t really establish any continuity.
“We changed it at half time, it didn’t take a lot, it was just getting the team to understand that we had to look after the ball better and create continuity to break Italy’s defence up. We needed to be patient and be more clinical in their 22 when we got there and we did- we were fantastic in the second half.
“There are some really good lessons from that game as a team and individuals. It showed us what can happen if you don’t get your accuracies and discipline right.”
The Red Roses next face Wales at Twickenham Stoop on 10th February, K.O. 12:15pm.
England Women match-day 23 v Italy, Six Nations 2018
15. Ellie Kildunne (Gloucester-Hartpury, 4 caps)
14. Abigail Dow (Wasps FC Ladies, 3 caps)
13. Lauren Cattell (Saracens Women, 21 caps)
12. Rachael Burford (Harlequins Ladies, 76 caps)
11. Danielle Waterman (Wasps FC Ladies, 78 caps)
10. Katy Daley-Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 95 caps)
9. Leanne Riley (Harlequins Ladies, 17 caps)
1. Rochelle Clark (Wasps FC Ladies, 133 caps)
2. Lark Davies (Worcester Valkyries, 7 caps)
3. Sarah Bern (Gloucester-Hartpury, 16 caps)
4. Abbie Scott (Harlequins Ladies, 25 caps)
5. Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 112 caps)
6. Poppy Cleall (Saracens Women, 18 caps)
7. Marlie Packer (Saracens Women, 55 caps)
8. Sarah Hunter © (Loughborough Lightning, 102 caps)
16. Amy Cokayne (Wasps FC Ladies, 37 caps)
17. Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins Ladies, 35 caps)
18. Justine Lucas (Wasps FC Ladies, 29 caps)
19. Rowena Burnfield (Richmond FC, 44 caps)
20. Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol Ladies, 39 caps)
21. Caity Mattinson (Bristol Ladies, 4 caps)
22. Zoe Harrison (Saracens Women, 4 caps)
23. Charlotte Pearce (Loughborough Lightning, 1 cap)
England Women Six Nations 2018 fixtures:
Italy 7 v 42 England
Tries: Bern, Cleall, Hunter (3), Kildunne, Dow
Cons: Daley- Mclean (2)
England v Wales
Saturday 10 February, KO 12:15pm, Live Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Mix
Scotland v England
Friday 23 February, KO 19:30, Live Sky Sports Mix and Sky Sports Arena via red button
France v England
Saturday 10 March, KO 20:00 GMT, Live Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Mix
Stade des Alpes, Grenoble
England v Ireland
Friday 16 March, KO 17:30, Live Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Mix
Ricoh Arena, Coventry
Report courtesy of the RFU