By Rosie Foley
England dominated the game and the Welsh side could not keep up with their intensity, as the Red Roses came away with a 12-51 win.
The first half was dominated by England. After 26 minutes, Simon Middleton’s side were able to come away with a bonus point as prop Sarah Bern and wing Jess Breach scored two tries each, with flanker Marlie Packer adding to the score.
Packer’s try showed England’s pack dominance over Wales, as they effortlessly drove the home side back from a line-out maul allowing the flanker to cross the line. The Welsh defence suffered again, as shortly after Packer’s try, Bern was able to step her way through and score under the posts, showing just what a modern-day prop can do.
Just before half time, Welsh winger Jess Kavanagh redeemed her side’s poor performance, cutting through three England defenders to score Wales’ first try – not only of their 2019 Six Nations campaign, but also the first against England since 2016. Going into the interval, Wales trailed 5-29.
Wales’ second half was much improved from their first. Rowland Phillips’ side were able to keep the Red Roses scoreless for 20 minutes, something Kavanagh called a “little win” for the Welsh. However, Wales were not able to keep up this intensity for long, as Catherine O’Donnell, Abbie Dow, Sarah Beckett and Katy Daley-McLean added another four tries onto the board, stretching England’s considerable lead further.
Cerys Hale scored a late Welsh consolation try from a well worked, long phased forwards’ ball, but the game finished 12-51 to the visitors.
Talk of the impact of England now being professionals surrounded the game, but Wales gave this little attention.
Welsh fly-half Elinor Snowsill noted that being professionals meant that the pressure was all on England, and not for Wales, allowing them to play how they wanted.
“They’ve got all that pressure on them, whereas we didn’t have any pressure on us, so we had the freedom to go for it and try different things, which you could see from a couple of cross fields and chips over.”
The Welsh side’s game showed many improvements from previous years against England, and captain Carys Phillips was proud with how the team performed.
“There were definitely some dominant parts of the game from us in the scrum and some of the ruck areas.”
Head coach Rowland Phillips noted the progress of the team from where they were two years ago to now and how different the games were.
“I sat here two years ago when we’d been on the back of 80 minutes where we’d struggled to get any control.”
“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.”
Wales can reflect on this game and grow from it. They go into their next game against Scotland in Glasgow on March 8th with hopes of coming away with their first win of the tournament.