Tara-Jane Stanley scored a second-half hat-trick as England sealed their place in the semi-finals of the women’s Rugby League World Cup with a comfortable 54-4 win over Canada in Wigan.
Stanley, the reigning Super League Woman of Steel, also added 10 points with the boot as England scored 11 tries including a brace each for Leah Burke and 19-year-old World Cup debutant Hollie Dodd.
England will next face Papua New Guinea on Wednesday night with a place at the top of the group at stake as they look towards a much sterner test in the semi-finals.
With a mind on his long-term plans, England coach Craig Richards brought in all seven squad members who had not featured in the opening win over Brazil, including handing a debut to Leeds Rhinos’ Zoe Hornby.
Their cause was helped by a shocking start from the Canadians, when Karina Gauto fumbled Stanley’s kick-off allowing Burke to squeeze over within the first 40 seconds.
Nevertheless the Ravens rebounded with a strong spell of pressure, prop Ada Okonkwo stopped close to the line and wing Maddy Aberg also coming close to levelling the score.
England doubled their advantage when Dodd jinked over after 17 minutes followed by Stanley’s first conversion and there was no way back for the visitors.
Wigan wing Georgia Jones marked her World Cup debut on her home ground by going over in the corner after Courtney Winfield-Hill’s clever kick, then Dodd continued her memorable afternoon by crossing for her second.
With the Canadians visibly wilting, full-back Fran Goldthorpe wriggled over for a superb individual try before Georgia Roche barged through the middle for a 30-0 interval lead.
HT: England 30-0 Canada
The stage was set for Stanley to stretch England’s advantage after the interval and she capitalised on a woeful Ravens back-line to cross twice in the first four minutes of the second half.
But just when the Ravens looked like buckling they summoned a moment to remember when wing Petra Woods rounded off a rare spell of pressure to touch down and claim their first points of the match.
Normal service soon resumed as Carrie Roberts scored England’s ninth, before Stanley completed her hat-trick as she palmed off a couple of Canadian tacklers to touch down on the right.
Burke crossed in the corner to complete England’s scoring in another powerful performance that clearly impressed the swelling crowd at the DW Stadium.
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