WXV1: England 45 - 12 Canada - Four Try Atkin-Davies Stars As Red Roses Power Through Canada - Ruck

WXV1: England 45 – 12 Canada – Four Try Atkin-Davies Stars As Red Roses Power Through Canada

England continued their WXV1 campaign in winning form, with an impressive 45-12 victory over Canada. The Red Roses set-piece could not be contained, with hooker Lark Atkin-Davies driving the dominant rolling maul over for four tries in Dunedin.

England scored a total of seven tries for back-to-back WXV wins, with flying back-three stars Ellie Kildunne, Jess Breach and Claudia MacDonald also contributing scores to the unobtainable points tally. Speaking in the post-match media, England Captain Marlie Packer highlighted the strength of her side’s revered set-piece.

Marlie Packer of England Women acknowledges the rugby fans after the autumn international match between England Women and New Zealand Women at Sandy Park on 31 Oct 2021. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

“It’s great, to be honest. We put a lot of time and effort into our set piece, not just the line-out but scrum-time as well. But in the line-out today, everybody did their drill, and did it really well. And, you know, then the reward comes for Lark (Atkin-Davies). But Lark knows that scoring is about that whole forward pack, and what we do to get her across the line. It was a phenomenal performance. I know we’re all super happy of where we’re at.”

Packer lined up against her Saracens teammate in Canada captain Sophie de Goede. The talented number eight spoke after the match, on why her side struggled to deal with the relentless Red Roses set-piece.

“We’ll have to go and do some soul searching to figure out why. I think, yeah, England’s very well drilled, their mauls are strong across all of their Premiership club teams. And so, it make sense that when they get together in their national team, there’ll be a good mauling side. And we knew that coming into it.

“We didn’t adjust well to them mauling at the front. We’ll have to take a look at what we were doing wrong. I have some ideas, but I’m not going to comment on them just because I need to review it first. But yeah, I’m sure when we play them next, we’ll respond better. I think we were prepared well, but we didn’t respond and adapt to them.”

Kildunne got her side on the scoreboard nice and early, for her third try against Canada in just two games. Following up on her try-scoring efforts over the Summer, the Harlequins star was fastest to react to Holly Aitchison’s kick into the Canadian in-goal area, and got the all-important downward pressure for an eighth-minute opening try of the match.

The match then entered a stalemate with an extended spell of unforced errors. The first half flow was heavily disrupted, as both England and Canada sent the ball to the deck with repeated knock ons. England made nine handling errors inside the opening 25 minutes, whilst Canada failed to take advantage with miss-thrown passes.

The attacking rhythm struggled to pick up steam, as the phase count for both sides rarely ticked over six completed phases. Canada eventually hit their stride with a 19-phase run of play on the half hour mark, yet England’s defence dealt well with the repeated drives. However, this was until Aitchison stretched out an arm for a deliberate knock-on, as the Bristol Bears halfback earned herself 10 minutes in the sin bin.

The following penalty saw Canada kick to the touchline, and sent a perfect rolling maul over England’s try-line. Hooker Emily Tuttosi grounded the ball, as the North Americans made full use of the extra player advantage. Sophie de Goede missed the following conversion, with the gap narrowed to 7-5 after 32 minutes.

England fired back with an immediate response, as a penalty to touch set the foundations for a trademark Red Roses try. England set up a rolling maul from 12 metres out, and trundled downfield with Canada unable to contain the pack. A sin-binned Aitchison handed kicking duties to Helena Rowland, who nailed the conversion from out-wide.

England ended the first half in style, and once again utilised their dominant rolling maul. With the first half clock in the red, England could have taken a 14-5 lead into half-time, yet captain Marlie Packer commanded her side for one more line-out drive. Natasha Hunt sent a kick to touch, and the following maul saw the England forwards power over once again, with Atkin-Davies grabbing her second try. Rowland had the final say of the first 40 minutes, as she slotted back-to-back conversions to close out the half with a 21-7 lead.

Canada struck first after the interval, as a loose bouncing ball was fly-hacked through a dis-jointed England midfield. Canada centre Shoshannah Seumanutafa then exploited the space, and played in her winger Paige Farries along the right touchline. Farries ignited the afterburners on her way through to score, with Natasha Hunt unable to catch-up with the flying winger. De Goede slotted the following conversion, and reduced the deficit to 21-12.

The rolling maul was certainly the order of the day, as England delivered time and again. Canada could not contain the pack for a third time, with Atkin-Davies diving down for her hat-trick at the 50 minute mark. The introduction of replacement prop Hannah Botterman was a powerful addition in the try, and Rowland extended the score-line to 28-12 from the tee.

It was then Canada’s time to drop down to 14-players, as replacement halfback Julia Schell was too high in her tackle attempt on England captain Packer. Thankfully, Schell’s tackle was static, with the card of choice being a yellow one.

England then took full use of the extra player, and utilised the driving maul for a fourth set-piece try. Atkin-Davies scored her fourth from the back of the pack, and received a resounding ovation, and took the high fives on her exit to the substitutes bench.

After a brief halt in the action, Ellie Kildunne broke the Canadian defence open once again. The Quin found a gap, and executed a neat switch move to the supporting line of Jess Breach. The replacement winger then hit top gear, on the way through to the try-line.

The party had then certainly started for England, who scored a second strike-move breakaway try just two minutes later. Once again it was Kildunne who split the Canadian defence, with Claudia MacDonald in support this time to sprint away downfield, and wrap up the stunning score.

England’s Interim Head Coach Louis Deacon was delighted with his side’s attacking display across the forwards and backs. Speaking after the win, Deacon praised his back three stars, with Kildunne, Breach and MacDonald all getting on the score-sheet, as the trio and Abby Dow all worked hard in defence.

“We’re learning all the time. But what is pleasing, is there’s balance coming in our game, and we’re not just relying on set-piece. We do have that in our game. And at times, I think we can show that more. But it’s literally about understanding the balance.”

“The back three worked incredibly hard. I think credit to Canada, when when they get the ball and they kept it for long periods of time, that does stress your back three, they have to work hard and recover a huge amount of space. Certainly flaming in on the edges.

“Yes, certainly when they got their opportunity in attack later on in the game, those two tries that the wingers scored were outstanding. Like I say, that’s going through a lot of work before that. So to finish the game, strongly it was really impressive.”

New Zealand Women thank the fans after the autumn international match between England Women and New Zealand Women at Sandy Park on 31 Oct 2021. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

England finish up their WXV1 campaign next weekend, as they take on the Black Ferns of New Zealand. Speaking in the post-match media, Packer is ready to take the fight to New Zealand, but doesn’t see it as a ‘revenge match’, for last year’s Rugby World Cup Final defeat at Eden Park.

“We’re a totally different group (since the RWC). We’ve definitely grown since last year, not just the players, but also the coaching staff has massively changed since then.

“I think we’re all really looking forward to next week, you know, setting a stall out, to these first few matches, but actually now we go and play New Zealand in their own backyard.

“We need to back-up the last two performances with a big performance next week. I don’t think revenge is a thing, we’re going out there to play rugby and enjoy it”


TRIES: 7 (Kildunne 8′, Atkin-Davies 36′, 40′, 50′, 57′, Breach 68′, MacDonald 70′)

CONVERSIONS: 5 (Aitchison 8′, Rowland 36′, 40′, 50′, 70′)



YELLOW CARDS: 1 (Aitchison 29′)


15. Ellie Kildunne 14. Abby Dow 13. Helena Rowland 12. Amber Reed 11. Claudia MacDonald 10. Holly Aitchison 9. Natasha Hunt 1. Mackenzie Carson 2. Lark Atkin-Davies 3. Sarah Bern 4. Zoe Aldcroft 5. Cath O’Donnell 6. Morwenna Talling 7. Marlie Packer (Captain) 8. Alex Matthews

16. Connie Powell 17. Hannah Botterman 18. Maud Muir 19. Rosie Galligan 20. Maisy Allen 21. Ella Wyrwas 22. Tatyana Heard 23. Jess Breach.


TRIES: 2 (Tuttosi 32′, Farries 43′)

CONVERSIONS: 1 (de Goede 43′)



YELLOW CARDS: 1 (Schell 57′)


15. Sarah-Maude Lachance 14. Paige Farries 13. Shoshannah Seumanutafa 12. Alex Tessier 11. Florence Symonds 10. Claire Gallagher 9. Olivia Apps 1. McKinley Hunt 2. Emily Tuttosi 3. DaLeaka Menin 4. Tyson Beukeboom 5. Courtney Holtkamp 6. Gabrielle Senft 7. Sara Svoboda 8. Sophie de Goede (captain).

Replacements: 16. Gillian Boag 17. Brittany Kassil 18. Alexandria Ellis 19. Ashlynn Smith 20. Sara Cline, 21. Justine Pelletier 22. Julia Schell 23. Madison Grant.


15. Ellie Kildunne 9

14. Abby Dow 6.5

13. Helena Rowland 7.5

12. Amber Reed 6.5

11. Claudia MacDonald 7

10. Holly Aitchison 6.5

9. Natasha Hunt 6

1. Mackenzie Carson 6

2. Lark Atkin-Davies 9

3. Sarah Bern 7

4. Zoe Aldcroft 7.5

5. Cath O’Donnell 6.5

6. Morwenna Talling 6

7. Marlie Packer (Captain) 7

8. Alex Matthews 7

16. Connie Powell (Atkin-Davis 57′) 6

17. Hannah Botterman (Carson 50′) 7

18. Maud Muir (Bern 62′) 6

19. Rosie Galligan (O’Donnell 55′) 6.5

20. Maisy Allen (Packer 62′) 6

21. Ella Wyrwas (Hunt 55′) 6

22. Tatyana Heard (Reed 50′) 6.5

23. Jess Breach (Dow 62′) 7