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Impressive Wales shock England

Venue: St Helen's, Swansea
Referee: Sarah Trumble

Wales set the Women's Six Nations alight as they beat world champions England for only the second time in their history.

Elinor Snowsill - celebrating here with number eight Shona Powell-Hughes - provided the kick for Laurie Harries' try (Getty Images)

On a crisp day of bright sunshine, Wales recorded only their second ever victory over England. The last was in 2009, by a single point. This was much more emphatic.

England were much changed from their last game - the World Cup Final. Fourteen of their World Cup winners were absent, through injury, retirement or the demands of the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series. Despite this, the world champions were expected to win at St Helen's - although of the opening weekend's games this was anticipated to be the closest. Wales were little changed from the World Cup, where many of their young team have gained a great deal of useful experience.

The first half was a even encounter, with most of the play confined to the area between the two 22s. England had their chances, but Megan Goddard failed to find the distance on her 13th minute penalty, as did Wales with a missed Laurie Harries penalty shortly after. Try scoring opportunities were few, although England probably had the best opportunity of the first half, a great break by Ruth Laybourn setting up a short period of English pressure on the Welsh line, but the red wall could not be breached and a penalty allowed Wales to clear.

As the half continued the Welsh seemed to grow in confidence, to which England failed to respond. Then, from the final play of the first half, Wales won a penalty and this time Harries's boot was accurate. It was only 3-0, but in what was obviously going to be a tight game it sent Wales into the changing rooms with heads held high, while England were rather more quiet.

Wales carried that confidence into the second half, and within minutes had extended their lead. The try came five minutes into the second half after a long period camped on the English try-line, and was finished off by prop Catrin Edwards , who charged her way through the English defenders.

Thereafter most of the play was in the Welsh half, but despite this England never managed to seriously threaten the Welsh line. Edwards was a towering presence throughout the match with her work in the loose. England's Goddard had two more penalty attempts - but both sailed wide. And then, well into injury time, Wales sealed the win with a fine score after Harries got on the end of a perfectly-weighted kick from Snowsill to race over the line to the delight of the Swansea crowd. 

Acting England Head Coach Nicola Ponsford said: “We are really disappointed with result but the first thing I must say is full credit to Wales. That is one of the best Wales performances I have seen. For us, we didn’t perform the way we wanted to as they didn’t allow us to create the platform we needed. That stopped us attacking the way we wanted to.

“There were, however, a lot of positives to take from the game. Our defence was pretty good and we held Wales to 8-0 for a large amount of the game. The commitment and determination the players showed was impressive. We are a young side and we are building - we know what we need to work on ahead of next week’s game against Italy.”

England women

 

Wales 13 (3)

Tries: Catrin Edwards, Laurie Harries Pen: Laurie Harries

England 0 (0)

TEAMS

Wales Women: Dyddgu Hywel (Pontyclun/Scarlets); Elen Evans (Waterloo/Scarlets), Adi Taviner (Skewen/Ospreys), Gemma Rowland (London Wasps/Dragons), Laurie Harries (Llandaff North/Blues); Elinor Snowsill (Dragons), Amy Day (Llandaff North/Dragons); Caryl Thomas (Bath Ladies/Scarlets), Carys Phillips (Skewen/Ospreys), Catrin Edwards (Llandaff North/Scarlets), Rebecca Rowe (London Welsh/Dragons), Rachel Taylor (Bristol Ladies/Dragons - capt), Sian Williams (Worcester/Dragons), Sioned Harries (Whitland/Scarlets), Shona Powell-Hughes (Skewen/Ospreys).

Replacements: Amy Lawrence (Skewen/Ospreys), Jenny Davies (Caernarfon/Blues), Amy Evans (Skewen/Ospreys), Jenny Hawkins (Llandaff North/Blues), Melissa Clay (Pencoed/Ospreys), Keira Bevan (Skewen/Ospreys), Robyn Wilkins (Llandaff North/Blues), Kerin Lake (Skewen/Ospreys).

England Women: Kay Wilson (Thurrock), Ruth Laybourn (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Abigail Brown (Bristol), Megan Goddard (Worcester), Sydney Gregson (Bristol), Ceri Large (Worcester), La Toya Mason (VC) (Wasps), Rochelle Clark (Worcester), Emma Croker (Richmond), Laura Keates (Worcester), Tamara Taylor (capt; Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Rowena Burnfield (Richmond), Hannah Field (Richmond), Hannah Gallagher (Saracens), Alexandra Matthews (Richmond).

Replacements: Victoria Fleetwood (Saracens), Victoria Cornborough (Richmond), Justine Lucas (Lichfield), Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Harriet Millar-Mills (Waterloo), Bianca Blackburn (Worcester), Lauren Cattell (Saracens), Katie Mason (Bristol).