This was the third annual meeting of England and Wales Women’s international sides as Headingley played host to the encounter as a curtain raiser to the third and final test between England and Tonga.
England have won both previous encounters between the two nations but after romping to a 60-0 win in 2021, the margin or defeat was more than halved to 32-6 in 2022, with the hope amongst the Welsh contingent being that they would be even closer to matching their English counterparts this time out.
But with the England players becoming household names, against a side drawn from emerging clubs, the bookies strongly fancied an England win, the only discussion being about the size of the winning margin.
After some good opening sets for Wales it was England who started the scoring with Amy Hardcastle running the angle to go over in the left corner off the back of the scrum. Tara-Jane Stanley added a brilliant touchline conversion to give her side a 6-0 lead with ten minutes on the clock.
On seventeen Georgia Roche stepped through the Wales defence and put Amy Hardcastle in for her second of the half. This time Stanley was unable to add the conversion as Wales captain Shaunni Davies left the field to undergo a head impact assessment,
The third England try came on twenty-four minutes, this time through Shona Hoyle, after Jodie Cunningham broke the line and put her prop forward in. Stanley added the conversion for 16-0, England starting to run away with it.
England were down to twelve for ten minutes with thirty-one on the clock when Vicky Molyneux was yellow carded after a high tackle.
Hardcastle went close on thirty-nine with a sensational forty metre rundown the left wing. A fast play the ball saw Caitlin Beevers scoot from acting half back to dive over for the fourth England try of the half. Once again Stanley was unable to convert, but England had a convincing lead going into the break.
Two minutes after the restart, Stanley found a way under the Welsh defence after mesmerising half a dozen opponents in a jinking run. She converted her own try for 26-0, Wales now out of the game and looking to restrict the margin.
It was turning into an England procession when Lacey Owen was on hand to take a pass in space five from the Wales line to dive over for a debut try. Stanley was short and wide with the conversion attempt but with half an hour left, England were 30-0 up.
Three minutes later Georgia Roche carved her way through a tired Welsh defence to score a tremendous solo effort from thirty metres out. This time Stanley hit the target for 36-0, it was starting to get painful for the side in red and black.
Stanley’s second came on the hour mark as England got their eighth unanswered try of the afternoon, pushing past a couple of attempted tackles before dropping to the ground for the try. Once again she was on target for a 42-0 lead.
Every time England got the ball then mow looked like scoring- Amy Hardcastle was the provider, this time to Tamsin Renouf to go outside the defender and score in the corner. Stanley added the conversion from wide, England just short of the fifty.
Another solo try on seventy-three, this one from Keara Bennett, as the hooker scooted from thirty metres through a broken defensive line to score under the sticks and bring up the fifty. Stanley hit the target again, her seventh of the afternoon, for a 54-0 scoreline.
A minute from time Emily Rudge stepped off both feet to score from twenty metres to crown a spectacular England performance. Stanley added the conversion to give a final score of 60-0, equalling Wales worst ever defeat, also against England in June 2021 in their first international.
While England will be delighted with their performance and the points that they managed to rack-up against their opponents, they will be disappointed that Wales didn’t put up more of a test and more of a challenge.
England: Stanley (2T, 8G), Partington, Renouf (T), Hardcastle (2T), Beevers (T), Jones, Roche (T), Hoyle (T), Bennett (T), Wood, Molyneux (SB on 31), Rudge (T), Cunningham. Subs: Peach, Whitfield, Hornby, Owen (T). 18th Man: Davies.
Wales: Burnell, Michael, Norkett-Morgan, Salter, Taylor, Marsh, Parker, Jones S, Reardon, Carr, Jones H, Mundy, Davies. Subs: Price, Evans, Jenkins, Gibbons. 18th Man: Boaler.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 14-0, 16-0, (SB), 20-0 : HT: 24-0, 26-0, 30-0, 34-0, 36-0, 40-0, 42-0, 46-0, 48-0, 52-0, 54-0, 58-0, 60-0 :FT.
Lead Exchanges: England.