Packer marked her first match as England captain with a try
England (29) 75
Trying to: Galligan (3), Cleal (2), Brown, Powell (3), Packer, Cabaye (2), Dow Cons: Harrison (4), Rowland
South Africa (0) 0

England have pipped South Africa to the top of Group C on their way to a World Cup quarter-final against Australia.

A much-changed Red Roses side made it 13 tries to win as they beat a buoyant Springboks side.

In the second row, Rosie Galligan – one of six England players making her first appearance at the tournament – was put over for the first of three tries after six minutes.

Connie Powell completed her own hat trick in the 69th minute.

Sadiya Kabeya won a resounding victory.

England’s win also confirms Wales’ place in the last eight, where they will face hosts New Zealand.

The Red Roses have extended their record run to 28 consecutive victories and are now potentially three matches away from Rugby World Cup glory.

They last played opponents from Australia in 2017, a 53-10 win in the Women’s Rugby International Series in Wellington.

Apart from Valarus, there is a potential semi-final with Canada and an exhibition final on November 12, with either New Zealand or France likely to win the other side of the draw.

All these encounters will be a tougher test than the Springboks.

There were some impressive cameos from South Africa, with number eight Asese Hele scattering the white shirts and winger Nomawetu Mabenge finding a gap early on.

But the 13th-ranked team in the world fell well short of England in most departments, especially the standard part.

After Galligan opened the ball, Poppy Cleal burst in after England had the South African side stuck in reverse at both the scrum and the line out.

Another strike produced another try for Galligan and one for Shauna Brown, called into the squad for the match alongside Ellie Kildon after minor injuries forced Vicky Cornborough and Emily Scarratt to withdraw.

After Connie Powell singled, South Africa headed down the tunnel 29 runs behind. And they could still consider themselves lucky.

Second row Kata Jacobs was one of two Springboks to see yellow before the break but could easily have been sent over her shoulder to the chin of her Saracens team-mate Poppy Cleal.

Powell got her second point on another lineout a minute after the restart.

With the result beyond doubt, England expanded their game plan, switching from the straightforward to the sublime and showing the variety that will be needed in the knockout stages.

A wonderful interplay with Cleal set up captain Marley Packer’s 27th Test try before Abby Dow and Tatiana Hurd sliced ​​through the Springboks to make way for Galligan to gallop over.

With South Africa tiring, the Red Roses made the most of the space, combining forwards and backs to produce some of the best rugby of the tournament.

Kleel was dispatched with clever hands from Hurd before substitute Cabaye stopped a drive that swept the length of the pitch and through a thin defence.

Dow raced over for his 11th try in a flurry of three points in five minutes before close-range tries from Powell and Cabaye added more points.

Middleton will be less concerned with the numbers but more interested in the fine print of individual performances.

Scrum half Lucy Packer was quick and smart in her decisions and performances, while Galligan claimed a place in the second row in the knockout stages.

Hurd was a tense, bustling presence in midfield, while Dow and Breach were clinical when passing the ball around in the second half.

The coach has a difficult choice to make.

Player of the match – Rosie Galligan

Rosie Galligan
With Abbey Ward and Zoe Aldcroft in the squad, there is fierce competition in the back row, but Rosie Galligan did her best with three tries and 58 meters with ball in hand, more than any other England forward


England: McKenna; Dow, Aitchison, Hurd, Breach; Harrison, L. Packer; Boterman, Powell, Muir; Galligan, O’Donnell, Talling, M. Packer (c), Cleal

Subs: Cockayne, Cornborough, Byrne, Aldcroft, Cabaye, Infante, Scarratt, Rowland

South Africa: Web; Mabenge, Namba, Kawe, Rus; Jordan, Kinsey; Charlie, Botes, Latsha, Bui (c), Jacobs, Dumke, Makua, Hele

Substitutes: Gunther, Ngsingola, Mkiwa, Mate, Salonzi, Potgieter, Cilliers, Kawe