THERE was very little drama in Parma as the ruthless Red Roses ran in 12 tries to batter and bagel Italy in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations.
England extended their record-breaking unbeaten run to 20 games with a 74-0 triumph that showed why Simon Middleton’s defending champions are the overwhelming favourites to win their fourth Championship on the bounce.
World Rugby’s coach of the year could afford to make nine changes to the side that blitzed Scotland 57-5 in Round 1 and still watch on as a dazzling dozen tries trickled in and made Italy look “ordinary” at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.
Lydia Thompson scored a hat-trick while fellow winger Sarah McKenna nicked a double – with the pair alternating for the first two scores.
England’s powerhouses up front then got in on the act, Lark Davies finishing from a maul before former hammer thrower Shaunagh Brown marked her return to the side by nailing down the bonus-point score inside 28 minutes.
Flanker Alex Matthews’ industrious carrying was rewarded with the fifth try, while Thompson went over again and replacement Vicky Fleetwood added her name to the spiralling list of scorers.
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Italy felt the Bern when super sub Sarah raced in from halfway 30 seconds after coming on, player of the match and scrum-half Mo Hunt setting her on her way with a tasty offload out the back door.
Emma Sing hit all the right notes after replacing Ellie Kildunne at full-back, the 21-year-old crossing for her maiden international score having made her debut last weekend.
Then fly-half Zoe Harrison showed off her footballing skills with a gorgeous grubber kick that found another heavy-hitter who had recently climbed off the bench in Emily Scarratt.
Last year’s Six Nations top scorer collected the ball and dotted down for her 50th England try before Italy’s Beatrice Rigoni was sin-binned allowing McKenna to cross for her second and Thompson to nab a third in the final play.
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Middleton was delighted with a rampant display that left Italy chasing shadows, saying: “I wouldn’t say they’re an uncompetitive team; I thought we were outstanding today.
“I thought our physical effort was so intense that it probably made them look pretty ordinary, and they are not. We have rotated the squad and had a really clear objective of the level of intensity we wanted to play at.
“I just think the scoreline is more of a reflection of how we played. We never looked like conceding today simply because of the effort and the application we showed in our defence.”
The TikTok Women’s Six Nations is more accessible than ever before. To find out how you can watch the Women’s Championship visit: womens.sixnationsrugby.com/tv/