England earned a hard-fought victory despite losing a host of players to injuries, running away with a strong 38-8 victory over Papua New Guinea yesterday.
Jenny Welsby was injured in the opening five minutes and failed to return, but that didn’t stop England as they crossed for seven tries in a strong attacking display.
Papua New Guinea were able to hold out an early attacking raid from England with some committed defence, and they reaped the rewards at the opposing end with Naomi Kaupa pouncing on a loose ball to score their first try in the right-hand corner.
Despite their promising start, England hit back shortly after with back-rower Shona Hoyle bursting onto a short-ball and showing brilliant pace to burn her defenders for their first try of the game.
Tara-Jane Stanley converted out-wide to take a 6-4 lead after 13 minutes.
A short-side raid from PNG resulted in a pinpoint kick, but England fullback Jodie Cunningham recovered brilliantly as she escaped the pressure with a blistering 30m run.
Despite England gaining momentum, the Orchids regained the lead after centre Anne Oifua capitalised on a deft kick to cross to the left of the uprights.
It became a tug-of-war contest with tempers flaring following some brutal defensive efforts from both sides, but it was England who found their way as Amy Hardcastle broke the line and sprinted 90m for an incredible solo try.
Stanley was unable to convert with England holding onto a 10-8 lead with just 10 minutes remaining in the first-half.
With a wave of momentum behind them, England dominated the closing stages with Stanley scoring a try of her own thanks to a perfectly timed cut-out pass from Lois Forsell.
Winger Charlotte Booth was on the end of a classy backline movement to score a last-gasp try in the left-hand corner to give her side a strong 18-8 advantage at halftime.
Both teams were battling in the opening exchanges with PNG searching for a much-needs try to get themselves back into the contest, but England were gusty in defence.
Stanley eventually found some open space and beat a shot of defenders on her way to the try line, but some scrambling defence from the Orchids was enough to hold her out.
With the game still heavily in the balance, Danielle Bound took it upon herself to break the game open as she muscled her way over from dummy-half for a crucial try.
The Orchids were fighting valiantly despite the scoreline, and they looked to have grabbed a try against the run of play with Queensland Women’s representative Amelia Kuk kicking twice back-to-back before eventually offloading to Joan Kumun for a 90m try; but the video referee ruled no try.
Booth closed for her second try after she was on the end of a perfectly timed cut-out pass, with Stanley converting nailing the conversion to take a sorting 30-8 lead.
Beth Sutcliffe capped off a brilliant performance with a try in the last five minutes as she powered her way over from close-range, with England running away with a hard-fought 36-8 victory.
England 36 (Charlotte Booth 2, Shona Hoyle, Amy Hardcastle, Tara-Jane Stanley, Danielle Bound, Beth Sutcliffe tries, Tara-Jane Stanley 4 goals) PNG 8 (Naomi Kaupa, Anne Oiufa tries)
This article first appeared on RLWC2017.com