- Merchant, Thompson and Hunt grab doubles in comfortable win
- Gary Street’s side face Spain on Tuesday in second Pool A clash
England 65 Samoa 3
England Women kicked off their Women's Rugby World Cup campaign with a comprehensive ten-try, 65-3 win against Samoa in Marcoussis.
Two tries for Kat Merchant, Lydia Thompson, Natasha Hunt and Kay Wilson and one apiece for La Toya Mason and Emily Scarratt set England on the way to victory while Scarratt also added 15 points with the boot.
After a cagey opening 10 minutes the game turned when Samoa full back Soteria Pulumu was red carded after a bad tip-tackle on England No. 9 Hunt. Scarratt added the resulting penalty for England's first points of the tournament.
England's first try came from the pacy Merchant who showed some quick feet before diving over the line. And she soon had her second - her 43rd for England - going over in the 24th minute for 15-0 after Scarratt's conversion.
Thompson showed great pace for England's third, racing in from more than 60 metres and Scarratt added the extras to make it 22-0.
Worcester wing Thompson had her second try after 35 minutes and England had their fifth try on the whistle - Hunt spotting a gap and backing her own pace to score to make it 34-0.
Samoa gave as good as they got in the opening exchanges of the second 40, but a piece of magic from Hunt, who cleverly spotted a gap in the tiring Samoa defence, broke the deadlock before replacement Wilson scored minutes later to make it 46-0.
Replacement scrum half Mason spotted gap on the try line for England's eighth before Maggie Alphonsi found Scarratt who raced in for her first try.
At 60-0 up, Samoa got their first points on the board with a penalty from Bella Milo but Wilson added her second at the death to bring the scoring to a close and to give England their first win.
No.8 Sarah Hunter said: "We've been itching to get out onto the pitch and we're pleased to get the campaign underway with a good performance - we wanted to play with width and tempo and we definitely did that at times. Samoa put the pressure on us, they were big and physical and played with real heart, but we'll review the game and look to improve before we play Spain."
Head coach Gary Street said: "There was a lots of really good stuff from us out there, we knew that it was going to be a physical game - there were some big hits, but we weathered the storm early on and exploited the space that came our way, particularly after the red card.
"We didn't really change anything after the red - we knew that if we stuck to our plan, and if we were patient then the opportunities would come. We'll take a look at the game before switching focus to Spain. We have 26 players in our squad and a game in four days; it's a quick turnaround, but we have faith in each player we have out here. We're just pleased to get the tournament underway with a win, it's the first of five, and we're looking forward to the next one."
15 Danielle Waterman (Bristol), 14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 13 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), 12 Rachael Burford ( Thurrock), 11 Lydia Thompson (Worcester), 10 Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) (C), 9 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield), 1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester), 2 Emma Croker (Richmond), 3 Laura Keates (Worcester), 4 Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps), 5 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 6 Heather Fisher (Worcester), 7 Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens), 8 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield) VC.
Replacements: 16 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield), 17 Claire Purdy (Wasps), 18 Rebecca Essex (Richmond), 19 Marlie Packer (Wasps), 20 La Toya Mason (Wasps), 21 Ceri Large (Worcester), 22 Kay Wilson (Bristol)
Tries: Merchant 2, Thompson 2, Hunt 2, Large 1, Mason 1, Scarratt 1
Conversions: Scarratt 6
Penalties: Scarratt 1
Substitutions: Wilson on for Merchant 40 mins, Essex on for McGilchrist 50 mins, Packer on for Fisher 50 mins, Purdy on for Keates 55 mins, Fleetwood on for Croker 55 mins, Large on for Mclean 58 mins, Mason on for Hunt 58 mins
15 Soteria Pulumu 14 Brenda Collins, 13 Merenaite Faitala-Mariner 12 Mac Collins 11 Justine Luatua 10 Bella Milo 9 Tulua Leuluaialii 1 Tessa Wright 2 Sharlene Fagalilo 3 Ala Leavasa-Bakulich 4 Italia Tipelu 5 Cynthia Taala (C), 6 Sally Kaokao, 7 Rita Lilii, 8 Helen Collins.
Replacements: 16 Ginia Muavae, 17 Laura Levi, 18 Cynthia Apineru, 19 Juliana Sua, 20 Roxy Leaupepe 21 Taliilagi Mefi 22 Mele Leuluaialii.