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Women's Six Nations 2024: Italy 0-48 England – Red Roses win bonus points despite Sarah Beckett's red card

Women's Six Nations 2024: Italy 0-48 England – Red Roses win bonus points despite Sarah Beckett's red card

  • Written by Alastair Telfer
  • BBC Sport

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Women's Six Nations: Italy 0-48 England – Highlights as the Red Roses win the bonus points

Women's Six Nations: Italy v England

Try: Putterman, Ward, Atkin-Davies, Kildon II, Rowland, Carson, Powell cons: Harrison 3, Aitchison

England's 14-man squad cruised to a bonus-point win over Italy after Sarah Beckett was sent off in their Women's Six Nations opener in Parma.

The number eight became the first woman to have her yellow card upgraded to red by the TMO 'bunker' system for dangerously clearing the match in the first half.

Despite being a late player, tries from Hannah Putterman and Abi Ward gave England a 10-point lead at half-time.

The Red Roses scored six tries in the second half to secure a comfortable win.

These results came through braces from Ellie Kildon, Lark Atkin-Davies, Helena Rowland, Mackenzie Carson and Connie Powell to correct a sub-par first half.

However, discipline remained an issue as Rowland was sent to the sin box for a high clean-up in the second half, but remained yellow after review.

Head coach John Mitchell praised his players for the way they reacted to Beckett's departure after 11 minutes.

“We responded really calmly. It's a testament to this team that they can play with 14, and eventually 13 players,” he told England Rugby.

“We were increasing the pressure until the end of the first half, and at the end of the day the girls responded to the difficult situation and came out of it very calmly.”

England is seeking to win the Grand Slam for the third time in a row and the sixth consecutive title in the Six Nations Championship.

Mitchell's team faces Wales at Ashton Gate on Saturday, while Italy, which finished fifth in last year's tournament, travels to Ireland on Sunday in the hope of repeating its only win last season.

Poor discipline slows England's start

Captain Marley Packer became the seventh English woman to reach 100 caps when she captained her side in Parma.

The trip to Italy was also Mitchell's first Women's Six Nations match where he was in charge of the Red Roses and called on his side to play with a higher tempo in attack.

In trying to do so, England produced an error-riddled first half that lacked precision with the ball in hand.

The loss of Beckett added to the frustrations. The 25-year-old grabbed Michela Sellari's waist before trying to push the Italian midfielder off the ball.

The result was that Celari sprained her knee and was forced to go off injured.

World Rugby has announced it is looking to clamp down on dangerous clean-ups to prevent knee injuries.

Mitchell's side were then forced to revert to their more direct attack-oriented approach and finally crossed the try line after a rare 30 minutes with no result.

Both Putterman and Ward, who was playing her first match for England since birth, made their way.

Red roses break stubborn Italy

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Women's Six Nations: Ellie Kildon scores to extend England's lead against Italy

Ahead of the 2023 Six Nations, Italy has announced the award of 22 professional contracts to its players.

This decision will take time to reap the benefits England have enjoyed since turning professional in 2019.

Although they remained well into the game due to England's errors, the Italians struggled for any territory.

Once Mitchell's team succeeded in reducing the mistakes in the first half, their professionalism was evident, especially with the influence of the substitutes.

The array of tries came from Kildon, who sprinted down the wing before rounding the full-back to show exactly why Mitchell wants to speed up his side's play.

Rowland also showed her proficiency in attack by weaving to put the Red Roses out of Italy's reach.

But the area for improvement will be goal kicking in England. Only four attempts were converted, with Zoe Harrison missing a direct try in the first half.

Mitchell recalled Harrison for her first game since defeat in the 2022 World Cup final after a bad knee injury and the fly-half struggled off the tee.

The Red Roses had scored 50 or more points for Italy in their past five matches, which offered some solace to an improving Italian team.

Formations

Italy: Ostoni Minozzi; Muzo, Silari, Rigoni, Dinka; Madea, Stefan (Captain); Maris, Turani, Cille, Federighi, Tounsi, Locatelli, Sgorbini, Cavina.

Replacements: Giorioli, Stika, Gai, Bellani, Duca, Frangipani, Stefanin, Granzotto.

Sin bin: Emma Stefanin (82)

England: Keldon. Dow, Roland, Scarratt, British; Harrison, packer; Butterman, Atkin-Davies, Clifford, Aldcroft, Ward, Kabia, Packer (captain), Beckett.

Replacements: Powell, Carson, Muir, Vionati, Matthews, Hunt, Aitchison, Jones.

to rule: Aurelie Grozelot (France)

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