Brazil 4 England 72: Leeds Rhinos players impress as hosts get RLWC 21 Women's World Cup off to flying start
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Stand-off Georgia Roche created three tries in her first game since suffering a broken ankle and ligament damage in August.
She combined well with her Rhinos half-back partner Courtney Winfield-Hill, who crossed for a hat-trick in a player of the match performance and Leeds full-back Fran Goldthorp and wing Caitlin Beevers were also on the scoresheet.
For England it was a solid start in a game they were expected to win by a cricket score, but the occasion was more important than the match itself.
The northern hemisphere-record crowd of 8,621 – which was down on the expected gate of more than 11,000 – was made up largely of school groups who created a noisy atmosphere and while Brazil were outclassed, they weren’t embarrassed.
The score blew out towards the end, with England scoring a flurry of late tries, taking their tally to 14, but for a team new to the sport, Brazil gave a good account of themselves and their try was greeted with one of the biggest cheers of the afternoon.
It was the third game in their history, after a 48-0 win over Argentina in 2018 and 16-4 loss to France in a warm-up match last weekend.
With only around 150 players to choose from, some of the Brazil squad have been playing league for less than a year and their lack of 13-a-side knowhow was obvious.
But athletically, they weren’t too far off. They have some size and pace and with more time together - and experience in their new code - there’s the makings of a competitive side.
They put in some big hits, particularly one by impressive wing Edna Santini on Amy Hardcastle, but were inevitably punished when they dropped off.
England scored some fine tries, but made a few more handling errors than they would have liked, probably due to lack of time together on the field.
They were professional in their approach though and it’s hard to quibble with 72 points scored and just one conceded. However, coach Craig Richardfs will expect his team to be better with more rugby as a unit.
The match was never a contest. Long passes from Roche set up the opening two tries for Beevers and Tara Jane Stanley, the former Castleford back now playing for York, inside the opening six minutes.
Winfield-Hill threw a dummy and stepped past three defenders for the third touchdown on 16 and added another soon afterwards, in similar style but from closer range.
Having missed with the first three kicks, Stanley converted that one for the first of her eight goals.
Substitute Grace Field backed up Victoria Molyneux’s break to score with her first touch, but Brazil were unfortunate to concede the final two tries of the half.
Hardcastle scored from a scrum after Brazil had a captain’s challenge - over an alleged ball steal - rejected; then they were harshly penalised for the same offence and Stanley crossed for her second just before the hooter.
England added two more in the opening stages of the second period. Goldthorp touched down after Brazil’s defence failed to deal with Roche’s low kick, then Hardcastle scored her second following smart handling by Winfield-Hill and Goldthorp.
The most uplifting moment of the match, though, came with 21 minutes left when Brazil scored their first World Cup try. It was a good effort, full-back Natalia Momberg dashing over off a terrific offload from Paula Casemiro.
That made it 44-4 and was the second time Brazil had crossed Egland’s line. In the first half a clever ball steal by Franciny Amaral gave them an attacking chance and Leticia was held up over the whitewash.
Brazil fell away after their score, conceding five late tries. Tara Jones took England to the half-century mark and the classy Hardcastle raced over to complete her hat-trick from Winfield-Hill’s pass.
Leah Burke got in the act, Winfield-Hill scored her third and OIivia Wood crossed on the final play.Brazil: Momberg, Santini, Medeiros, Felix, Fernandes, Moura, Graf, Amaral, Bodeman, Barros, Oliveira, Welter, Leal. Subs Barth, Casemiro, Prioste, Loschi De Quadros.
England: Goldthortp, Beevers, Stanley, Hardcastle, Burke, Roche, Winfeld-Hill, Hoyle, Jones, Wood, Molyneux, Rudge, Cunningham. Subs Harris, Dodd, Whitfield, Field.
Referee: Rochelle Tamarua (New Zealand).