Red Roses thrash Italy in Six Nations despite early Beckett red card

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Red Roses thrash Italy in Six Nations despite early Beckett red card

Women’s Six Nations: England thrash Italy in Parma despite early Sarah Beckett red card

Hannah Botterman, Abbie Ward, Marlie Packer, Ellie Kildunne (two), Helena Rowland, Mackenzie Carson, Connie Powell scored tries, despite England No 8 Sarah Beckett being shown a red card for an 11th-minute dangerous cleanout; John Mitchell’s Red Roses face Wales in Bristol next week

Last Updated: 24/03/24 6:01pm

Ellie Kildunne scored twice in a player of the match display as the Red Roses beat Italy 48-0 in Parma

Ellie Kildunne scored twice in a player of the match display as the Red Roses beat Italy 48-0 in Parma

England’s Red Roses began their 2024 Women’s Six Nations defence in dominant fashion, beating Italy 48-0 in Parma despite No 8 Sarah Beckett being sent off early on.

Beckett was shown a red card after a bunker review into an 11th-minute incident in which she landed her body weight onto the standing leg of Italy centre Michela Sillari in a dangerous cleanout of a ruck, using a crocodile roll action World Rugby are determined to rid the sport of. Sillari limped off shortly after and would not return.

Despite being reduced to 14 players, and making a host of errors in the first half, England headed in 10-0 ahead at the break after unconverted tries from prop Hannah Botterman and lock Abbie Ward – the latter making her return to international rugby following childbirth.

The second half saw John Mitchell’s Red Roses far more dominant and accurate, scoring further tries through back-row Marlie Packer, full-back Ellie Kildunne (two), centre Helena Rowland, prop Mackenzie Carson and hooker Connie Powell, failing to concede even when falling to 13 players after Rowland was sin-binned late on.

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With over 30 minutes gone and both sides still searching for points, it was Botterman who broke the deadlock with a short-range effort to get England on the scoreboard. Ward followed up soon after, this time grounding the ball in one attempt, having had a further effort ruled out for a double-movement.

It took until the 31st minute for England to score, as prop Hannah Botterman forced her way over

It took until the 31st minute for England to score, as prop Hannah Botterman forced her way over

Abbie Ward twisted and turned to score England's second try, on her international comeback following childbirth

Abbie Ward twisted and turned to score England’s second try, on her international comeback following childbirth

It look just four minutes for the Red Roses to secure their third score following the resumption through Packer at the back of the driving maul – the captain dotting down to cap off her 100th international appearance.

The bonus-point try came shortly after thanks to a piece of individual brilliance from Kildunne. The full-back received a box-kick on the opposition 10-metre line and weaved her way through a loose Italian defensive line to coast in under the posts.

Kildunne showed superb running to sprint through for the Red Roses' bonus-point fourth try

Kildunne showed superb running to sprint through for the Red Roses’ bonus-point fourth try

Rowland scored England’s fifth after slipping through the grasp of Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi, before Carson powered over from short range to bring her side into the 30s.

A yellow card to Rowland in the closing quarter saw her side go down to 13 players before Kildunne crossed for her second of the afternoon. Narrow Italian defence created an acre of space on the right flank for the Harlequins flyer, who needed no second invitation.

Helena Rowland also darted and stepped through to score, as England ran riot in the second half

Helena Rowland also darted and stepped through to score, as England ran riot in the second half

With the clock in the red there was time for one final action, and it was down to replacement hooker Powell to regather possession at the base of the driving maul and score the eighth and final try of the game.

A return to Bristol’s Ashton Gate awaits England in round two as they host a Wales side hoping to bounce back after their 18-20 defeat to Scotland in the opening round.

What’s next?

The Red Roses face Wales at Ashton Gate in Bristol in the second round of the championship on Saturday March 30 (4.45pm kick-off GMT).

Italy travel to play Ireland in Dublin at the RDS Arena on Sunday March 31 (3pm kick-off GMT) for their next clash in Round 2.

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