Middleton 'super proud' as Red Roses grab huge win at the Gardens

Simon Middleton was 'super proud' after seeing his England side claim a superb 68-5 win at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens on Sunday afternoon.
England were big winners at the Gardens on SundayEngland were big winners at the Gardens on Sunday
England were big winners at the Gardens on Sunday

The Red Roses were in fine form as they ran in 12 tries against Italy in the TikTok Women's Six Nations showdown.

But Middleton knows there are much tougher tests to come, and he is urging his side to work hard in the coming weeks.

"That was a really great team performance,” Middleton said.

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“It was a full squad performance and I’m super proud of them.

"We were trying to get our most dangerous runners into space, and fortunately we have a lot of them. Sarah Bern is one of them. She likes holding the edge and running at space, she is such a destructive player when she has ball in hand, but she’s also a good decision maker."

Bern, who was named TikTok Women's Six Nations player of the match, was the catalyst behind England's aggressive and hard running attack, which saw them score tries for fun in front of 12,947 supporters at the sun-drenched Gardens.

The impressive prop provided an assist for one of two Claudia MacDonald tries, and popped into the backline at will.

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MacDonald's efforts were in addition to four Abby Dow tries, a Jess Breach hat-trick, two from Marlie Packer and one for Tatyana Heard.

"I thought Italy were great, they came out playing with adventure and tried to take the game to us, they were unpredictable in attack and asked questions of our defence," Middleton added.

"Next time out against Wales it’ll be different. They are a confident and tough side, they have real good momentum.

"And France will be a different proposition. They really got their campaign rolling at the weekend so we have to keep an eye on what is to come, as well as staying in the moment and making sure there is perspective about how we play."

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Captain Packer hit a milestone in the win over Italy, in scoring twice she became the Red Roses' top try-scoring forward of all time with 37, overtaking Gill Burns.

"Expansive rugby is what the fans come and pay to see," Packer said.

"The more that we play like that, the more fans we will be able to get in."

England: 15. Abby Dow, 14. Jessica Breach, 13. Lagi Tuima, 12. Tatyana Heard, 11. Claudia MacDonald, 10. Holly Aitchison, 9. Lucy Packer, 1. Mackenzie Carson, 2. Amy Cokayne, 3. Sarah Bern, 4. Catherine O'Donnell, 5. Delaney Burns, 6. Sadia Kabeya, 7. Marlie Packer (c), 8. Zoe Aldcroft (vc).

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Finishers: 16. Lark Davies, 17. Liz Crake, 18. Kelsey Clifford, 19. Sarah Beckett, 20. Emily Robinson, 21. Ella Wyrwas, 22. Sarah McKenna, 23. Emma Sing

Italy: 15. Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi, 14. Aura Muzzo, 13. Michela Sillari, 12. Beatrice Rigoni, 11. Sofia Stefan, 10. Veronica Madia, 9. Sara Barattin, 1. Gaia Maris, 2. Vittoria Vecchini, 3. Lucia Gai, 4. Sara Tounesi, 5. Giordana Duca, 6. Francesca Sgorbini, 7. Giada Franco, 8. Elisa Giordano (c).

Replacements: 16. Emanuela Stecca, 17. Alice Cassaghi, 18. Sara Seye, 19. Valeria Fedrigh, 20. Isabella Locatelli, 21. Emma Stevanin, 22. Jessica Busato, 23. Beatrice Capomaggi.

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