Emphatic win for 14-player England a damning indictment of quality of Women’s Six Nations

England celebrate on the whistle at the Hive Stadium after thrashing Scotland without conceding a single point – and all after Amy Cokayne was sent off
England celebrate after thrashing Scotland - Reuters/Russell Cheyne

Scotland Women 0 England Women 46

Another day, another emphatic victory for England, who overcame Amy Cokayne’s second-half red card to make it three wins from three in the Women’s Six Nations with an eight-try dismantling of Scotland.

The brutal reality is that the Red Roses, who set about ripping up what green shoots Bryan Easson’s side have carefully laid down during this campaign to shreds, could have played the entirety of this match with 14 women on the pitch and still reached a half-century of points. Such was their slick offloading and sheer physical dominance that Cokayne’s absence was barely felt. The hooker’s premature exit, which came when England were five tries to the good after head-on-head contact with Lana Skeldon earned her a second yellow card, was the only blot of the afternoon on England’s copybook.

John Mitchell’s side had been wary of the hosts harnessing the energy of a sold-out crowd at the Hive Stadium, which Cokayne, on an eventful afternoon for the Leicester Tigers front row, silenced inside the first 10 minutes. Marking her comeback after a year away from the international scene following a long-term calf injury, she punched her way over the whitewash, setting the tone for what would be a fruitful afternoon for the visitors.

At times it looked like she had never been away, although her rustiness was perhaps telling when she twice fell foul of Clara Munarini’s whistle.

Her first offence involved a lifting tackle on Evie Gallagher, before shoving into Skeldon in the second half. With neither upgraded by the bunker system, Cokayne could be available for England’s final two matches against Ireland and France. This was England’s second red card in three games, after Sarah Beckett was sent off for her crocodile roll in their opening round match against Italy, although Lou Meadows, England’s attack coach, brushed off concerns about her side’s discipline.

“It happens because we’re playing with such ambition,” she told the BBC. “We’re trying to retain and protect the ball. That involves bravery and a level of risk, and sometimes we’re not as disciplined in the risk-taking side of it. We’re not worried about it. I’m proud of girls getting after it, we want them to get after the ball.”

Meadows, who has been widely credited for spearheading a new brand of rugby that has emboldened England’s attack, can have few complaints given the manner in which her personnel swept Scotland aside. Abby Dow’s score – and England’s second – took pride of place on the highlights reel. It was a well-worked team try that encapsulated everything about the Red Roses’ crisp, intricate passing game which sliced Scotland open and culminated in Sadia Kabeya fizzing a pass on the edge to the winger.

There was a certain irony in how, in a week where World Rugby announced it had begun trialling smaller balls in the women’s game, Meg Jones fumbled a pass that saw Jess Breach’s first-half score disallowed. Maud Muir also saw her try scratched off after Cokayne’s tip tackle on Gallager, but both were merely mini blips in the greasy conditions that eventually dried out.

Even if England are scaling new heights of their own, it is impossible to shrink off the feeling of deja vu. The Red Roses can only play what is in front of them but the lack of jeopardy in their opening three matches has been startling. That a 14-woman team effortlessly blasted past a Scotland side high on confidence is a damning indictment of the competitive black hole that is still hampering this competition.

Yet it would be unfair to punish England for their supreme excellence, which was best epitomised when centre Jones kicked the ball infield to aid a racing Ellie Kildunne to dot down for the first of her two tries, bringing her championship total to six on a day when the Red Roses’ back-line dazzled.

Breach, who struggled to hold down a place in this starting side not too long ago, also executed a sensational individual score. Gathering the ball from a poor Scotland exit, she gilded past a sea of navy blue to cross in the corner. “It ranks quite high up there,” Breach said afterwards. “It’s credit to the people behind me – I think Ellie was behind me – and she was like, ‘Have a go.’ It’s really important as a team to back each other.”

And that is why this imperious Red Roses team is so good. If they are to continue on this trajectory, they will be unstoppable.

Match details

Scoring sequence: 0-5 Cokayne try, 0-10 Dow try, 0-15 Kildunne try, 0-17, Aitchison con, 0-22 Kabeya try, 0-24 Aitchison con, 0-29 Breach try, 0-34 Breach try, 0-39 Kildunne try, 0-44 M Packer try, 0-46 Aitchison con

Scotland Women: C Rollie; R Lloyd, E Orr, M Smith (L Thomson 41), C Grant (F McGhie 32); H Nelson, C Mattinson (M Mcdonald 56); L Bartlett (M Wright 53), L Skeldon (E Martin 59), C Belisle (E Clarke 53), F McIntosh (E Donaldson 50), L McMillan, R Malcolm, A Stewart (R McLachlan 56), E Gallagher

England Women: E Kildunne; A Dow, M Jones (S Gregson 72), T Heard (Z Harrison 65), J Breach; H Aitchison, N Hunt (L Packer 65); H Botterman (M Carson 56), A Cokayne, M Muir (K Clifford 56), R Galligan (C Powell 56), A Ward, Z Aldcroft, S Kabeya (M Packer 59), A Matthews (M Feaunati 59)
Sent off: Cokayne

Referee: Clara Munarini

Attendance: 7,774

Scotland v England: As it happened

04:39 PM BST

Scotland manager Brian Easson disappointed

“I thought England were outstanding.

“Once you give them ball on the front foot they are going to put you under pressure.

“We didn’t really fire a shot … and we’re disappointed with that.

“It’s difficult for both teams … they got on the front foot, and it’s difficult to stop them.

“Today was poor. Today wasn’t us. We are going in the right direction. There are glimpses in there that we’ve got some good things in us.

“We’ll draw a line under that one...We’ll learn a lot from that.

“The lineout’s been frustrating... second half, when we threw to the front, we got some decent ball...but by then the game was gone.”

04:37 PM BST

Natasha Hunt says England have more to give

“We’re getting there…there is more in there that we want to go after.

“Playing with a pack like that, that give you that go-forward, is anyone’s dream really.

“In the week it’s tough because we go at each other so hard, but it makes things easier when it comes to the games.

“We want to be offensive in our defence.”

04:13 PM BST

Women’s Guinness Six Nations table as it stands

04:10 PM BST

Ellie Kildunne speaking after the final whistle

“I think it was quite a sticky game. The weather didn’t help.

“We all got soaked during the anthems but we adapted to the conditions. There’s a lot to work on, but to put eight tries on a very good team, we’ve got to be proud of ourselves.

“It was a team performance. We [the backs] got space on the edge only because of the girls working in the middle.

“We speak about confidence, we speak about taking the handbrake off … each game we seem to discover a new strategy, and we’re building for the big ones at the end.”

04:03 PM BST

Full-time: Scotland 0 England 46

England march on in their quest for the sixth consecutive Six Nations titles with a comfortable win against the spirited Scots. They top the table with 15 points, six ahead of France who are on 9 points.

03:59 PM BST

77 mins: Scotland 0 England 46

Heather Lockhart gives Ellie Kildunne the Guinness Six Nations Player of the Match.

03:55 PM BST

72 mins: TRY! Scotland 0 England 46 (Packer)

Try No 8, and guess who? Of course, it’s Packer making her mark - and perhaps a statement in the process. It’s converted by Zoe Harrison, and the Red Roses now have 50 in their sights at 46-0.

Packer adds to the scoreboard
Packer adds to the scoreboard - REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

03:48 PM BST

65 mins: TRY! Scotland 0 England 39 (Kildunne)

Kildunne with her second try. Again an England player given way too much space on the flanks. Hard to believe England are the team with a women less.

Data Insights from Sage

03:43 PM BST

60 mins: Scotland 0 England 34

It’s been the best of times and worst of times for Amy Cokayne, scorer of England’s first but is the recipient of England’s second red card in this championship, after Sarah Beckett was saw red in the Red Roses’ opener against Italy. The hooker can have no complaints there - she doesn’t dip enough as she rips the ball from Skeldon. Scotland will play out the remainder of this fixture with a one-woman advantage and they need to make it count.

03:42 PM BST

58 min: TRY! Scotland 0 England 34 (Breach)

Breach is in for a second try and it’s a marvelous solo effort from the `Sarries wing but should Scotland have been kicking the ball down her throat when they are a player up?

Red Roses on fire
Red Roses on fire - Getty Images/Jan Kruger

03:35 PM BST

54 mins: RED CARD! Scotland 0 England 29

Emma Orr manages to hold England up as Cocayne powers through in search of Try No 6. But there’s a TMO involvement here and it’s a (second) yellow for England hooker Cocayne. It’s gone to bunker review, but the shoulder hit seems marginal surely? Anyway the Red Roses are down to 14 now.

03:30 PM BST

52 mins: TRY! Scotland 0 England 29 (Breach)

That’s quality! A fifth try as England go wide and fast. Winger Breach wraps around from her right wing to pop up on the left and take the pass in her stride to cross for the best try of the afternoon.

Jess Breach scores her first
Jess Breach scores her first - Getty Images/Jan Kruger

03:23 PM BST

44 mins: TRY! Scotland 0 England 24 (Kabeya)

Try for England and a bonus point to boot. Scrum power in evidence as they roll over the Scots from close range allowing flanker Kabeya all the time in the world to dot down. Aitchinson adds the extras. Long way back for the hosts from here.

03:20 PM BST

43 mins: Scotland 0 England 17

Dow must be getting frustrated on that right flank. Another final ball flies overhead with her primed and in perfect position.

03:18 PM BST

40 mins: Scotland 0 England 17

We’re back underway at Hive Stadium. The sun is out for the second half. England have the wind for this half which they will certainly try to take advantage of.

03:16 PM BST

Data insights from Sage

03:07 PM BST

Half-time verdict

It’s been pretty one-way traffic. England have continued where they left off and Scotland haven’t really had a sniff. That said, it’s been far from a perfect performance from the visitors, who have let their handling error count creep up. The conditions haven’t exactly helped, but it has been drying out here a while now.  Their silky offloading game has been out in force and Alex Matthews and Hannah Botterman have been continually bulldozing their way through Scotland’s line. They’ll be disappointed with these two disallowed scores but Cokayne’s absence has barely been noticed.

03:04 PM BST

Half-time: Scotland 0 England 17

The ref blows up for half-time. The Red Roses will feel like they should be ahead by more but will equally be happy with some of the rugby they’ve played in the first 40 minutes.

Amy Cokayne
Amy Cokayne - REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

03:02 PM BST

39 mins: Scotland 0 England 17

I’m sitting a couple of metres away from the coaching box and John Mitchell, the England head coach, just slammed his fist down in frustration after Galligan overcooked her looping pass on the edge to Dow.

03:00 PM BST

38 mins: Scotland 0 England 17

England put together a nice move on the 22 but Galligan’s pass is too high and flies over the head of Dow and out of play.

02:58 PM BST

34 mins: TRY! Scotland 0 England 17 (Kildunne)

Megan Jones kicks the ball into the path of Ellie Kildunne who rolls the ball over the whitewash to extend England’s lead. Aitchinson converts to make it 0-17.

Ellie Kildunne with a third for England
Ellie Kildunne with a third for England - REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

02:54 PM BST

32 mins: Scotland 0 England 10

Scotland have been unable to get a foothold in this game so far. They’ve barely been in England’s 22. They showed so much promise against France but haven’t been able to capitalize on mini momentum swings against the Red Roses. After Amy Cokayne’s yellow card they really do need to make that extra woman count. Nice to see Muir step up a England’s designated line-out thrower.. she can play across the front three.

02:51 PM BST

29 mins: Scotland 0 England 10

Maud Muir burst through a wall of Scotland players and scores another try for England. No wait, Cokayne picks up a yellow for a foul in the build up so she’s sidelined and the try is scrubbed off.

02:47 PM BST

Data insights from Sage

02:46 PM BST

A look at Cokayne’s try earlier

02:44 PM BST

26 mins: Scotland 0 England 10

England have already made 9 handling errors today. That ball is proving difficult to keep a hold of.

Penalty for Scotland near their own end line.

02:43 PM BST

25 mins: Scotland 0 England 10

Breach thinks she’s scored another England try but the ref goes upstairs to check if there was a knock on in the build up. It looks like Jones is the culprit. Referee confirms the knock on.

02:39 PM BST

22 mins: Scotland 0 England 10

Scotland break from the scrum and put together a dangerous move but its quickly thwarted by England who go on their own attack led by Botterman. She kicks it into touch. Moments later Rollie puts the after burners on after a mishandle from Kabeya but it is pulled back.

02:35 PM BST

Data insights from Sage

02:34 PM BST

World class Botterman!

We keep on mentioning how much attacking flair England have added to their game and it was on show for Dow’s try there. Hannah Botterman has made two storming carries into Scotland’s 22 which has set the platform for both of the visitors’ tries so far. She really is developing into a world class loosehead.

02:32 PM BST

15 mins: Scotland 0 England 10

First real opportunity for Scotland but Chloe Rollie knocks on. Scotland struggling to find a rhythm at the moment.

02:30 PM BST

TRY! 12 mins: Scotland 0 England 10 (Dow)

Brilliant England move finished off by Abby Dow in the corner. Almost every England player touched the ball before Dow scored the try. Kabeya gave the final pass right into the hands of Dow who was happy to contribute.

Abby Dow with a try for England
Abby Dow with a try for England - Getty Images/Jan Kruger

02:27 PM BST

Cokayne no stranger to crossing the whitewash

Amy Cokayne - scorer of a hat-trick in the 2022 World Cup final - is no stranger to crossing the whitewash. After such a long time away from the international scene, she’ll be thrilled with that, although kudos to Mo Hunt who resisted being pushed into touch as Scotland scrambled to keep England out there.

02:25 PM BST

TRY! 7 mins: Scotland 0 England 5 (Cokayne)

Hunt passes to Amy Cokayne who uses her power and strength to place the ball over the line for the first try of the game. Aitchison misses the conversion as the wind takes it left and wide of ther posts.

Amy Cokayne scores England's first try
Amy Cokayne scores England's first try - REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

02:23 PM BST

5 mins: Scotland 0 England 0

Hannah Botterman finds some space to run but is dragged down by a couple of Scotland players. England applying some early pressure.

02:19 PM BST

Hard to handle

A couple of early instances of players letting the ball slip from their grasp because of the wet conditions.

02:16 PM BST

And we’re off!

Things get under way in Edinburgh

02:10 PM BST

Amy Cokayne could have a say in today’s outcome

Finally returning after a long calf injury. It will be great to see her back out on the field. Here’s a little taste of what we can expect from her today.

02:04 PM BST

Inspiring words from Botterman

England have just finished their warm-up at a very blustery Hive Stadium. They come into a huddle and Hannah Botterman delivers an energising speech before they turn to head off the pitch and down the tunnel.

The Red Roses warm up
The Red Roses warm up - Getty Images/Jan Kruger

01:58 PM BST

Late change for Scotland

England are heavy favourites today but then again, they always are. This is a huge game for Scotland, who have come on leaps and bounds over the past year and came close to pushing France all the way a fortnight ago. They’ll be looking to harness the energy of a sold out Hive Stadium, where a crowd of 7,774 is expected here today.

There’s been a late change for the hosts - Emma Wassell has dropped out - we assume because of injury or illness but the SRU have not yet clarified - with Saracens second-row Fi McIntosh now starting for her Test debut. Eva Donaldson comes onto the bench.

01:51 PM BST

Fiona Thomas comes to us live from Edinburgh

01:50 PM BST

England team

01:49 PM BST

Scotland team

01:46 PM BST

The Red Roses take on Scotland

Afternoon all and welcome to today’s live blog for the Women’s Six Nations clash between the might Red Roses and Scotland at Hive Stadium. Hunting for their sixth consecutive Six Nations, England will have their work cut out for them today against a Scotland side who are coming into the game in fine form. They opened their campaign with a first win on Welsh soil in 20 years, before pushing France all the way in Edinburgh in round two.

That said, previous meetings between the two haven’t gone down so well for the Scots. In their last six meetings England have put up 343 points to Scotland’s 30, scoring at least 43 points in each match. Safe to say this doesn’t bode well for the hosts. Hive Stadium is sold out for the fixture, the first time this has happened for a Scottish women’s rugby game.