(Reuters) – England moved one step closer to sealing the Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam with a commanding 55-0 victory over second-placed Italy in Exeter on Saturday.
The win gave a relentless England side a bonus point in front of a record 10,545 strong crowd at Sandy Park, more than double the previous record for a women’s international outside the World Cup.
“As the game’s growing we’re getting more exposure and it’s great to see. We’re still getting to know each other and having this crowd supporting us, we can’t ask for more,” flanker Sarah Beckett told Sky Sports.
Italy frustrated England until wing Jess Breach gave the hosts the lead with a try in the 13th minute before hooker Lark Davies and Sarah Hunter also scored to give Simon Middleton’s side a 21-0 lead at halftime.
England refused to take their foot off the gas and Sarah Bern got England their bonus point in the 42nd minute with a run to power through the Italians before Marlie Packer added a fifth.
Vickii Cornborough scored the sixth before Breach scored her second try just after the hour mark, her 18th try in six appearances.
Abbie Scott and Vicky Fleetwood also joined in on the action to give England nine tries in the game. Katy Daley-McLean had four conversions, two in either half.
It was the third time England had scored more than 50 points at the Six Nations this year after beating Ireland 51-7 in the opening round in Dublin and a 51-12 victory over Wales in Cardiff last month.
England now have 20 points from four games and play their final match against Scotland, who are yet to win a game, at Twickenham next Saturday.
On Friday, Wales picked up their first victory of the tournament with a dramatic last-minute conversion from teenage flanker Lleucu George to beat Scotland 17-15.
Jade Konkel and Sarah Bonar managed two tries for Scotland in the first half but Bethan Lewis’ try and Robyn Wilkins’ kicking brought Wales level at 10-10 at the half.
The second half did not see much action until the final six minutes when Chloe Rollie’s try gave Scotland a 15-10 lead and a glimmer of hope for their first win in the tournament.
However, Siwan Lillicrap levelled the game with a try in the 80th minute before George converted to give Wales the win.
Third-placed France, who are a point behind Italy, are at Ireland later on Saturday and can move up to second. However, a defeat will hand England the title.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)