England 56-5 Spain: England begin defence of World Cup with 10-try victory
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 09/08/17 9:06pm
England scored 10 tries as the defending champions kicked off the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup with a 56-5 victory over Spain at Billings Park in Dublin on Wednesday.
Winger Kay Wilson notched a first-half hat-trick, while Meg Jones also crossed as England led 24-5 at half-time, Diana Gasso touching down for Spain.
Wilson scored her fourth of the match in the second half and Emily Scarratt, Harriet Millar-Mills, Alex Matthews, Amy Cokayne and Lydia Thompson all crossed the whitewash to secure an emphatic scoreline for Simon Middleton's side.
England next face Italy in their second Pool B clash on Sunday in Dublin, while Spain play the United States later the same day.
Within a minute of the kick-off, outside-centre Jones got England's defence off to the perfect start on her World Cup debut, slaloming through Spain's back-line to dive over.
Wilson doubled the lead in the fifth minute after a hugely powerful English scrum won the ball back against the head five metres out, and from there it was a case of shipping the ball through the hands for the winger to touch down in the corner.
A third try arrived in the 19th minute courtesy of Wilson again, after a superb cross-field kick from fly-half Katy McLean followed powerful build-up play by England's forwards which had sucked in the Spanish defence.
Wilson completed her hat-trick after 32 minutes, again illustrating her ruthless finishing ability as she saw off two defenders to touch down.
Spain pulled one back through Gasso five minutes before half-time with fly-half Patricia Garcia the architect having shown great pace to run half the length of the pitch and hack the ball on three times before England transgressed on the ground. Scrum-half Anne Fernandez took a quick tap and Spain had the numbers out wide to score.
Scarratt was introduced for the second period and scored within three minutes of the restart, starting the move herself with a wonderful step on halfway before finishing the flowing sequence with a simple run-in in the corner.
England grabbed their sixth try of the match in the 51st minute as blindside flanker Millar-Mills powered over from close range, before Wilson crossed for her fourth try just three minutes later.
Back-row replacement Matthews scored with 20 minutes to go after Garcia was charged down in her own in-goal area by replacement hooker Cokayne.
Cokayne got on the scoresheet herself nine minutes later as she was at the back of an unstoppable driving maul, while Thompson scored her 28th international try in the corner with minutes remaining to round things off.