Match Report


Italy England 2024
England survived an early Sarah Beckett sending off to begin the defence of their Guinness Women's Six Nations crown with a 48-0 win over Italy in Parma.

The Red Roses were faced with the prospect of playing for 72 minutes with 14 players following Beckett seeing red for a crocodile roll and were frustrated by determined home defence in the opening half hour.

But tries from Hannah Botterman and Abbie Ward gave the visitors a half time lead and England found their groove after the break, running in six more tries.

Ellie Kildunne was responsible for two of them while Marlie Packer, Helena Rowland, Mackenzie Carson and Connie Powell also crossed as England ensured Packer's 100th match - and head coach John Mitchell's first - started with a victory.


The first 10 minutes were patchy in Parma, with both sides struggling to make attacking positions count at the lineout as England in particular were unable to capitalise on what is often a lethal weapon.

The visitors' task soon became tougher when Beckett was yellow carded for a crocodile roll on Michela Sillari at a ruck, a decision which was soon upgraded to red following a bunker review.

England remained on top despite the numerical disadvantage but were forced to be patient by a stubborn Italian defence.

They thought they had broken through when Abbie Ward dotted down on 17 minutes only for the score to be ruled out for double movement on review, and a symbol of visiting frustration came when Emily Scarratt tried something inventive but kicked out on the full.

The half-hour mark arrived with no points on the board and it took the power of Botterman to bring the breakthrough. The prop had been tackled a couple of metres out a few minutes earlier but was not to be denied when a scrum had built almost unstoppable momentum, diving over to get the Red Roses up and running for the 2024 Championship.

One quickly brought two as Ward, who has given birth to her daughter, Hallie, since the last Championship, was not to be denied on this occasion.

The lock spun over for England's second, though Zoe Harrison again missed the opportunity to add the extras.

Jess Breach was set free for what appeared to be a third try just before the break but the pass from Harrison was forward, ensuring England's lead stayed at 10 points at the interval.


The advantage was quickly added to after the break as England belatedly found their groove at the lineout.

Lark Atkin-Davies hit her target deep inside the Italian 22 and when the maul trundled towards the line, Packer was on hand to mark her landmark day by applying the finishing touch to a trademark try of the sort the skipper has been no stranger to over her previous 99 caps.

The bonus point was secured 10 minutes into the second half courtesy of a trademark piece of individual brilliance from Ellie Kildunne, who claimed a loose clearance kick and skipped free of several attempted tackles en route to touching down under the posts.

Harrison followed up with her first successful conversion of the afternoon and soon added another as the Red Roses began to move through the gears, Helena Rowland finishing in style after a perfectly timed pass from replacement Holly Aitchison.

Aitchison was the architect again on the hour mark, spinning a pass to Mackenzie Carson, who bulldozed over from the five-metre line for England's fifth try.

Italy's chances were limited as an attacking force and a rare foray into the visiting 22 saw Aura Muzzo carried into touch by Kildunne.

And having shown her defensive mettle, Kildunne was on hand to add a second score to her tally when the ball was spun wide as the Red Roses made light of being two players down, Rowland having been sent to the sin-bin for an indiscretion at a ruck.

There was still time for England to add an eighth score. Connie Powell had earlier come within metres of sprinting in for a solo score before being reeled in close to the line but added her name to the scoresheet in more orthodox fashion with the clock in the red, touching down at the base of another dominant rolling maul.