Saracens’ McKenna does the trick for England Women in big tour win

Saracens Sarah McKenna scored a hat-trick of tries for England women in their tour opener against Au

Saracens Sarah McKenna scored a hat-trick of tries for England women in their tour opener against Australia (pic Paul Harding/PA) - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Australia Women 10 England Women 53

Saracens’ Sarah McKenna scored a hat-trick of tries as England got their 2017 International Women’s Rugby Series campaign off to a winning start with a convincing victory over Australia at Porirua Park, New Zealand.

Wing McKenna was joined on the scoresheet by clubmate Vicky Fleetwood, as Izzy Noel-Smith, Abbie Scott, Kay Wilson (two) and Harriet Millar-Mills also touched down, with Sarries’ Emily Scott adding four conversions.

It was the Wallaroos who took the lead in the third minute when full back Ashleigh Hewson dived over following some last ditch defence from England on their own line.

The Red Roses responded quickly with a catch and drive and Noel-Smith emerged the scorer with her fourth international try.

After 20 minutes England had their second try from another driving maul, lock Scott scoring on her first international appearance since the 2016 Six Nations.

Nine minutes later England’s pack continued to make inroads into the Australian defence, but the ball was cleverly shifted out wide to McKenna to dot down in the corner.

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Hewson then registered a penalty for Australia but the Red Roses had the final say on the stroke of half-time as the ball went through the hands and Wilson sidestepped the final defender to saunter over.

England came out firing in the second half and extended their lead in the 43rd minute, as Rachael Burford broke through the Australia defence and unselfishly fed Fleetwood to cross.

The Red Roses’ constant pressure told again 10 minutes later, with Millar-Mills the beneficiary as she galloped over and Scott nailed the conversion from out wide.

McKenna scored her second try on the hour with another assist from Burford and two minutes later turned provider for Wilson to also go over for her second try of the match.

With the game coming to a close a superb cross-kick from Burford allowed McKenna to complete her hat-trick and a comfortable win for the Red Roses.

“There were some really good parts to our game,” said England Women’s head coach Simon Middleton.

“It was our first run out after a very long journey and a tough few days acclimatising. The players are slightly frustrated with a few errors but we’ve got to be pleased with putting on 50 points against a very competitive and physical international side.”

Looking ahead to their ext match against Canada on Tuesday, June 13 (which will be livestreamed on World Rugby’s Facebook page at 1.30am BST), Middleton added: “Ahead of our next game we’ll be topping up on our skills but more importantly we’ll be making sure we’re recovered properly. It will be another big challenge against Canada.”

After playing Canada in Christchurch on Tuesday, England face New Zealand at the Rotorua International Stadium on Saturday, June 17 (5.15am BST).

England: 15 Emily Scott (Saracens, 22 caps), 14 Kay Wilson (Richmond, 43 caps), 13 Megan Jones (Bristol, 3 caps), 12 Rachael Burford (Aylesford Bulls, 66 caps), 11 Sarah McKenna (Saracens, 13 caps), 10 Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 84 caps), 9 Leanne Riley (Aylesford Bulls, 10 caps), 1 Vickii Cornborough (Aylesford Bulls, 24 caps), 2 Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens, 60 caps), 3 Sarah Bern (Bristol, 9 caps), 4 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 104 caps), 5 Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 15 caps), 6 Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield, 44 caps), 7 Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol, 30 caps), 8 Alex Matthews (Richmond, 30 caps). Replacements: 16 Amy Cokayne (Lichfield, 26 caps), 17 Justine Lucas (Lichfield, 20 caps), 18 Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 8 caps), 19 Emily Braund (Lichfield, 25 caps), 20 Sarah Hunter (Bristol, 91 caps), 21 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield, 36 caps), 22 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield, 67 caps), 23 Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries, 32 caps).