Leah Burke scores four tries as England enjoy emphatic win over France
Leah Burke scored four tries as England women marked their first appearance since last year’s World Cup semi-final defeat to New Zealand with an emphatic 64-0 win over France in Warrington.
Australia-bound Hollie-Mae Dodd added a double while Tara-Jane Stanley scored a try and kicked eight out of 12 conversions in a one-sided start to life under new head coach Stuart Barrow.
The French, who exited the World Cup with three straight defeats, scarcely summoned any resistance as Shona Hoyle, Tamzin Renouf, Eboni Partington, Sinead Peach and Amy Hardcastle also scored to take England’s total try tally to 12.
Dodd, whose quickfire double extended England’s lead early in the second half, and Leeds Rhinos’ Georgia Roche made history as the first professional players to represent their country having recently inked deals in Australia’s NRLW.
They can expect much sterner tests ahead with the tone for the match set when Manon Samarra fumbled the kick-off and Roche sent Burke scampering over for the opener.
With the hosts’ incisive passing cutting apart the French defence, Burke picked up a neat pass from Stanley to cross for her second before the 10-minute mark.
England were making yards at will and Hoyle burst out of the front row to twist through the reluctant French rearguard and score England’s third midway through the first period.
The hosts switched flanks with Renouf and Partington both squeezing in on the right before Stanley went over, taking her personal first-half tally to 10 with a 50 per cent successful conversion rate.
Dodd touched down for a double early in the second period, sandwiching a neat kick from Stanley that teed up Burke to complete her hat-trick, and two more Stanley conversions took England’s tally to 46.
York captain Peach, recalled to the squad after being controversially omitted for the World Cup by Barrow’s predecessor Craig Richards, marked her return with England’s 10th try before Burke completed her personal tally.
Hardcastle, one of the stand-out performers of the World Cup campaign, crossed for England’s 12th and final try, serving up Stanley to take her own personal points tally to 20 with the final conversion of the day.