Poppy Cleall insists England still have plenty of areas to work on after her hat-trick ensured they continued their unbeaten Women’s Six Nations campaign with a 66-7 triumph over Wales, writes Nicola Kenton.
Cleall scored two tries in the opening 15 minutes at The Stoop before Katy Daley-Mclean and Vicky Fleetwood both dotted down as the hosts secured the try bonus point before the break.
Wales managed a penalty try in the second half but scores from Harriet Millar-Mills, Amy Cokayne, Zoe Aldcroft, Hannah Botterman and Sarah McKenna rounded off England’s victory.
But despite the defending champions making it four wins from four in front of 10,974 fans to sit top of the standings, Cleall admitted Simon Middleton will still expect more from the Red Roses.
“He is a bit of a stickler so I’m sure there’s quite a lot there that we need to work on,” she said. “It’s a rugby game there are some areas you get on top and some areas where you don’t.
“We know we’ve got things to improve on and we’re under a lot of pressure in some of the areas so we need to go back and have a look at that and then go again.”
With no victories to their name in this year’s Six Nations, Wales were looking to change that and a strong scrum in the opening exchanges showed they meant business.
But England began to find gaps in the Welsh defence and Cleall got the first try of the afternoon with just seven minutes on the clock when the lock managed to reach out over the line.
Captain Emily Scarratt added the extras and it wasn’t long before Cleall had her second under the posts – only five minutes later – after some good work from Shaunagh Brown.
Wales tried to get a foothold in the game but their efforts were compounded by a few handling errors and mistakes at the lineout.
Before long the Red Roses had their third when Daley-Mclean broke through a gap from 25 metres, evading the Welsh defenders to dot down and give her side a 19-0 lead.
Wales then had a period of possession where they made their way to the 22 but they were not able to capitalise in the red zone.
England’s set piece was working a treat and their sixth successful lineout gave them the bonus point when Fleetwood touched down from the resulting maul with Scarratt adding the extras.
After the break the Red Roses didn’t have to wait long before they were through again, this time Millar-Mills slicing open the Welsh defence to touch down.
Cleall claimed her hat-trick with 50 minutes gone when she broke from outside the 22, picking the ball up off the bottom of the ruck and surging over the line.
England’s seventh try came when Cokayne, who was making her 50th appearance for the national side, dotted down.
Wales got their first points of the afternoon through a penalty try, England scrum-half Natasha Hunt was deemed to have impeded a certain score which saw her sent to the sin bin.
Despite being one player down, the Red Roses scored a further two tries as Aldcroft and Botterman both crossed the whitewash.
And with just minutes left on the clock, McKenna crossed in the corner to score England’s tenth of the contest and seal the Triple Crown with a superb home victory.