England defeated Grand Slam champions France 41-26 in their women’s Six Nations clash at Doncaster on Sunday to emerge as favourites to clinch the title this year.
England, who top the table ahead of Italy with two victories from as many games, dominated the match billed as a potential tournament decider by scoring seven tries to France’s four.
The hosts surged to a 24-0 lead in the opening half with two tries each from lock Poppy Cleall and centre Jess Breach before France hit back with a strong performance after the break, but it was too little too late for the champions.
Kelly Smith, Hannah Botterman and Cath O’Donnell also got on the scoresheet for England to leave them full of confidence ahead of their meeting with Wales in Cardiff on Feb. 24.
France welcome Scotland a day earlier while Italy host Ireland in the other third-round fixture.
On Saturday, centre Michela Sillari missed a last-minute penalty as Italy drew 3-3 with Wales in Lecce to keep their unbeaten run going after last week’s win over Scotland.
Flyhalf Robyn Wilkins put Wales ahead with a penalty before Sillari levelled the scores after the interval to set up a tense finish, but the teams could not be separated at the end.
Ireland responded to an opening round hammering by England by beating Scotland 22-5 on Friday for their first win of the campaign with tries from Aoife McDermott, Leah Lyons, Alison Miller and Anna Caplice.