|Fiji: (14) 19|
|Try: Nakoci, Donu, Cavuru; The inconvenients: Cavour 2|
|England: (24) 84|
|Try: MacDonald 4, Cokayne 2, Ward, Rowland, Aldcroft, Thompson 2, Dow, Infante, Powell; The inconvenients: Scarratt 5, Harrison 2|
The English favorites opened their World Cup with a dominating second half to claim a record 14 try victory over debutants Fiji.
Fiji played a rhythmic game and trailed by just 10 points at halftime.
But the Red Roses’ professionalism shone as they scored 10 tries after the break and winger Claudia MacDonald took her individual tally to four.
England have never scored more tries or points in a World Cup game and extend their winning record to 26 Tests.
England’s previous highest World Cup tally was 82 against Kazakhstan in 2010 and they scored 13 tries against Sweden and Canada in 1998.
Auckland’s Eden Park sold out for the opening day, with an attendance of 34,235, surpassing the record for a Women’s World Cup match of 20,000 set in 2014.
Earlier on Saturday, France – England’s closest title rivals along with New Zealand – beat South Africa 40-5 in the same venue, meaning the Red Roses are top of the table. hen c.
The three main contenders and Wales are the only teams in the tournament with enough union investment to be classed as fully professional.
Exciting Fiji test England early on
Fiji brought the same intensity to the first half of their World Cup debut as they did to the national anthem.
Number eight Karalaini Naisewa took an immediate break to put England on edge, but the professional and clinical Red Roses quickly stifled Fiji’s creativity with their ever-reliable set piece.
A maul gave space for MacDonald to score the first try, before Fiji’s fast play began to test England again.
The two main talking points before opening day were that this was the biggest Women’s World Cup ever and that England were the favorites to win.
Fly balls dropped by fly-half Zoe Harrison and flanker Sadia Kabeya – leaving ahead of injured Marlie Packer – hinted at nerves in the highly touted team, but again their maul worked well as Amy Cokayne scored the second try.
England may not be able to rely on this tactic as heavily against stronger opponents like France and New Zealand and retired World Cup winner Katy Daley-Mclean asked during the week if the Red Roses had a plan B.
Plan A was all it took against Fiji. Women’s rugby is still in its infancy there, with the first club only formed 10 years ago, and the team’s most capped players having made just eight appearances.
Abbie Ward drove for a try and Fijian captain Sereima Leweniqila was shown a yellow card in the aftermath.
Despite being a declining player, Fiji finally delivered on their attacking promise as full-back Roela Radiniyavuni navigated a maze of redshirts inside his own half and fed winger Alowesi Nakoci for the team’s first World Cup try.
Then Kabeya repaired his earlier mistake with an impressive break, Helena Rowland running on a low pass to score.
Fiji continued to show individual brilliance as Sesenieli Donu faked a pass and sliced through four England defenders for a second down before the break.
England strengthen their favorites tag
In the second half, England looked more like the team that averaged nine tries per game in 2022.
Top of the world rankings since November 2020, the Red Roses have dominated the world game since their last defeat in July 2019.
That defeat came against five-time world champions New Zealand, but England’s first win shows why they are such big favorites to win a third title.
Cokayne rolled in for a second down three minutes into the half and three minutes later Zoe Aldcroft scored.
A loose ball led to a try for Lydia Thompson and the winger then completed a well-worked team score before MacDonald claimed a second.
If you had to pick a winner out of 14 trials, the 10th would be up there. Abby Dow, who made her unlikely comeback from a broken leg in six months to New Zealand, scored to the delight of her teammates and coaches.
England will always find room for improvement and kicking may be one of those areas, with center Emily Scarratt missing five of 10 conversion attempts.
But it’s hard to find much fault with a side that scored a try every four minutes in the second half, with Leanne Infante and Connie Powell also adding their names to the scoresheet before the 80 minutes were up.
Player of the match – Sadia Kabeya
Fiji: Radiniyavuni; Nakoci, Laqeretabua, Donu, Naikore; Rokouono, Cavuru; Verebalavu, Matarugu, Rasolea, Serevi, Leweniqila (captain), Waisega, Adivitaloga, Naisewa.
Replacements: Tawake, Vasuturaga, Namositava, Ofakimalino, Daveua, Ravato, Roqica, Matanatabu.
England: Kildunne; Thompson, Scarratt, Rowland, MacDonald; Harrison, baby; Cornborough, Cokayne, Bern, Aldcroft, Ward, Matthews, Cape, Hunter (captain).
Replacements: Powell, Botterman, Muir, O’Donnell, Cleall, L Packer, Aitchison, Dow.
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