Lark Atkin-Davies scored four tries as England cruised to a 45-12 victory over Canada in their second match of the inaugural WXV tournament in Dunedin. All four of the hooker’s efforts came via rolling mauls as England built on their opening win over Australia to maintain their dominant position at the top of the six-team group.
Their victory means England will win WXV1 if they can beat hosts New Zealand in their final match next week. “We are not where we want to be and there is still a long way to go,” said interim coach Louis Diacre. “We’re on the road with a new coaching staff, so we’re learning all the time. But the nice thing is that there is a balance in our game, and it’s about understanding that balance.
England got off to a dream start when Ellie Kildunne took advantage of a series of Canadian errors to land after eight minutes, and Holly Aitchison converted to give her team a seven-point lead. Canada responded through Emily Tuttosi after Aitchison was sin-binned for a deliberate head-kick, and it took England until three minutes before the break to finally take full control.
Atkin-Davies moved from behind the maul and moments before the half-time whistle she repeated the feat, with two conversions from Helena Rowland giving England a 21-5 lead at halftime.
The Canadians, beaten by England in last year’s World Cup semi-final, responded through Paige Farries early in the second half, but another identical double from Atkin-Davies increased England’s advance.
Kildunne’s neat layoff sent Jess Breach scrambling in the 69th minute and, from the restart, Claudia MacDonald won England’s seventh and final try as she avoided a group of Canadian defenders caught off guard. Rowland duly kicked his fourth and final conversion to seal another impressive victory and send England into next week’s highly anticipated World Cup final rematch on a high.
“I thought they were outstanding throughout the week,” Deacon said of his team. “Our preparation was excellent and they showcased it on the field. It’s nice to see how they executed the set piece and especially the lineout and maul, but there is still something to work on.