08 October 2022

England make record-breaking start to World Cup campaign

08 October 2022

England started their World Cup campaign with an 84-19 rout of tournament debutants Fiji.

The Red Roses assured themselves of a bonus point in the first half but they led only 24-14 at the game’s midway point.

However, they scored 10 tries after the break to make sure of a dominant start to the competition in New Zealand.

Claudia MacDonald scored four tries and Amy Cokayne and Lydia Thompson two apiece, with Abbie Ward, Helena Rowland, Zoe Aldcroft, Abby Dow, Leanne Infante and Connie Powell also crossing in the Pool C opener.

Emily Scarratt kicked five of her conversion attempts, with Zoe Harrison booting two herself.

The 84 points bettered England’s previous best of 82 in the competition, set against Kazakhstan in 2010.

England started brightly and after hooker Cokayne had crossed in the eighth minute, lock Ward (18) and winger MacDonald (27) had them in the clear before Fiji responded with a try of their own from Alowesi Nakoci (31).

Rowland crossed for England two minutes before half-time but Sesenieli Donu’s individual effort meant Fiji trailed by just 10 points at the interval.

However, Simon Middleton’s team dominated the second half at Eden Park.

Cokayne went over for a second time less than two minutes after the resumption, winger Thompson crossed twice (50 and 53) and MacDonald claimed three more tries (56, 70 and 76).

There were also scores for Aldcroft (45), winger Dow (59), reserve hooker Powell (74) and scrum-half Leanne Infante (65).

It represented a successful return for Dow, who broke her leg in April’s Women’s Six Nations campaign but made a rapid return to fitness and was named as a replacement for the tournament opener.

However, Fiji claimed the last try of the contest late on through Lavena Cavuru.

England’s second game of the competition takes place next Saturday against France at Whangarei.

The French opened their tournament with a 40-5 defeat of South Africa.

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