England one step away form the Six Nations grand-slam after thumping win over Italy

PUBLISHED: 19:17 09 March 2019 | UPDATED: 19:17 09 March 2019

England's Emily Scott and Italy's Elisa Giordano during the Women's Six Nations match at Sandy Park, Exeter. Picture: SIMON GALLOWAY/PA

England's Emily Scott and Italy's Elisa Giordano during the Women's Six Nations match at Sandy Park, Exeter. Picture: SIMON GALLOWAY/PA

PA Wire/PA Images

England need just one more win to clinch the Women’s Six Nations grand-slam after another massive win.

England players celebrate at the end of the game during the Women's Six Nations match at Sandy Park, Exeter. Picture: SIMON GALLOWAY/PAEngland players celebrate at the end of the game during the Women's Six Nations match at Sandy Park, Exeter. Picture: SIMON GALLOWAY/PA

The 55-0 win over Italy, which included former Welwyn juniors Zoe Harrison - who added one conversion - and Hannah Botterman as well as Harpenden’s Sarah McKenna, came in front of a record 10,545 attendance at Sandy Park in Exeter.

England line up before the Women's Six Nations match at Sandy Park, Exeter. Picture: SIMON GALLOWAY/PAEngland line up before the Women's Six Nations match at Sandy Park, Exeter. Picture: SIMON GALLOWAY/PA

It was a tight game in the opening stages until winger Jess Breach dived over in the corner after 12 minutes, while a driving maul from a line-out set the platform for hooker Lark Davies to dot down.

England line up before the Women's Six Nations match at Sandy Park, Exeter. Picture: SIMON GALLOWAY/PAEngland line up before the Women's Six Nations match at Sandy Park, Exeter. Picture: SIMON GALLOWAY/PA

An initial break by Marlie Packer saw her go close to the line before captain Sarah Hunter powered over from close range with a pick and drive for a 21-0 half-time lead.

England's Marlie Packer scores a try during the Women's Six Nations match at Sandy Park, Exeter. Picture: SIMON GALLOWAY/PAEngland's Marlie Packer scores a try during the Women's Six Nations match at Sandy Park, Exeter. Picture: SIMON GALLOWAY/PA

The bonus-point was secured a minute into the second half as Sarah Bern burst down the blind-side off a set-piece line-out move and broke through three tackles to cross.

England's Sarah McKenna is tackled by Italy's Valentina Ruzza during the RBS Women's 6 Nations match at Twickenham Stoop, London. Picture: Paul Harding/PAEngland's Sarah McKenna is tackled by Italy's Valentina Ruzza during the RBS Women's 6 Nations match at Twickenham Stoop, London. Picture: Paul Harding/PA

Hunter’s break from the back of the scrum set up Packer for an easy score and it was another driving maul that saw Vickii Cornborough go over.

The ball was spun to the right wing for England’s seventh as Breach showed smart footwork and strength to beat the defender, her seventh try of the tournament.

Another well-worked rolling maul saw lock Abbie Scott at the back of the drive to cross, and with time dead Vicky Fleetwood rounded off England’s phase play by diving under the posts for the ninth and final score.

Head coach Simon Middleton said: “We were excellent at times and we’re obviously thrilled with the outcome. Full credit to Italy. They are a very good side and they showed that.

“Our performance was a bit frustrating at times, particularly in the first half, but I’m really pleased with how the girls came in at half-time and knew exactly what the situation was and what they needed to do going into the second half.

“They didn’t let their frustrations get the better of them and turned their focus to stepping it up after the break, which they did.

“We demonstrated that there are some great elements to our game but there’s still lots that we need to work on.”

The grand-slam shot for the Red Roses is against Scotland at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday, following the conclusion of the men’s game.

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