Hunter ends England career with clinical win over Scotland

Hunter left the pitch to a standing ovation from her home Newcastle crowd after her 141st appearance
Hunter left the pitch to a standing ovation from her home Newcastle crowd after her 141st appearance

Marvellous Marlie Packer powered England to a historic 58-7 victory over Scotland in their opening game of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations at Kingston Park Stadium.

Simon Middleton's side now boast an impressive 20 games unbeaten in the Championship, the longest sequence of victories in its history.

Packer grabbed a second-half hat-trick as Claudia MacDonald and Amy Cokayne both notched doubles in Newcastle.

Tatyana Heard, Poppy Cleall and Sadia Kabeya also made their way onto the scoresheet as co-captain Sarah Hunter called time on her illustrious career.

It was never going to be easy for the Scottish side but Chloe Rollie made all the difference in the final stages of the game as she crossed for their only score.

Packer was the playmaker in the opening minutes with two vital carries down the midfield pushing England within scoring distance.

Deep in their opposition's territory, Simon Middleton's side were almost undone by some feeble passing on the wing but recovered well and fed the ball expertly from left to right for MacDonald to dive over the whitewash and open the scoring in the eighth minute.

Scotland hit back almost instantly with Emma Orr powering forward and linking up with Helen Nelson, who offloaded back to Orr for the final push.

But the centre's reach was just centimetres too short and a brilliant effort by the Scots fizzled out as England regained possession.

The Red Roses began to settle on the 20-minute mark and Packer was once more at the forefront of the surge, almost teetering over the line before feeding the ball out wide to Cokayne who dotted down into the right corner for the home side's second, a poor conversion attempt by Lagi Tuima missing the extras.

As the pace of a world-class England team increased at Kingston Park, MacDonald turned on the afterburners and notched her double in the 24th minute, too fast to be reached by the Thistles who tapped at her heels.

Heard stumbled over for her first just 10 minutes after taking to the field, and Cokayne grabbed her second through a driving maul on the half-hour mark as Tuima recovered her conversion rate and added the extras.

Scotland saw a moment of energy as Francesca McGhie sparkled on debut with a weaving run down the left-hand side, but the England defence roared into action and the home side ultimately led 31-0 at the break.

Cleall stretched the lead just two minutes into the second half, barraging over before Easson's side began the hunt for their first points of the game.

But every time the Scottish side got close to their opposition's 22, they lost possession and were forced backwards by the reigning champions.

Kabeya grabbed England's seventh try of the afternoon in the 49th minute as the flanker easily powered forward over the line before Packer notched her own through a powerful driving maul, dotting down in the right corner.

As the sun set in Newcastle, it also marked the end to Hunter's glittering career as the home hero left the field for the final time in the 58th minute to a standing ovation and roaring applause.

In a play-for-play remake of her first, Packer crossed in the right corner once more just after the hour mark, before Sarah Beckett looked to have scored her first, with it instead ruled a knock-on.

And with the right corner looking like the sweet spot for scoring, Packer notched her hat-trick in the same place just minutes later.

But Scotland had the last laugh with just six minutes to go as debutant Beth Blacklock forced an opportunity and Rollie produced the goods.

The fullback storming over the line for the visitor’s only try of the game as Nelson added the extras.

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