England led only 5-0 after at the end of the first quarter as the South Africans demonstrated the progress that the team has made. The scrum was holding its own and No 8 Aseza Hele again showed herself as one of the most formidable ball carriers in the game.
But two yellow cards in the first half – and a penalty count that racked up to 12-4 in the opening period (and 16-7 by the final whistle) – gave England the field position to demonstrate their outstanding maul efficiency.
Twelve of their 13 tries were scored by their forwards with hooker Connie Powell and lock Rosie Galligan both scoring hat-tricks, as the Boks had no answer to the lineout drive. Six of England’s tries came from the phase.
The final score wiped away the memory of a bright start from South Africa. The tide turned with four tries in 13 minutes to completely change the complexion of the match after South Africa had made a the brightest of starts.
During that period, the Springbok Women lost both locks to yellow cards as England’s tight phase dominance led to a succession of scrums, which led to a succession of lineout drives which led to four of their five first-half tries.
The warning signs came with a try from a lineout drive in the sixth minute by Galligan.
However, the South Africans held their own for the next 20 minutes despite losing lock Catha Jacobs to the sin bin after a clash of heads in an upright tackle.
They kept England scoreless until just before Jacobs’ return, but the dam finally broke when England No 8 Poppy Cleall scored from a close-range drive.
The game now took on a familiar pattern with the mounting penalty count leading to field position for England to score from lineout drives in the 29th, 32nd and 35th minutes – the last two after the Boks were again down to 14 after captain Nolusindiso Booi had been dismissed for an illegal maul sack.
Within 45 seconds of the restart yet another try from a maul drive – a second for hooker Connie Powell – re-established the pattern of the first half.
After that it was very much one-way traffic. The penalty count continued to mount, and England added a further seven tries with South Africa unable to find any field position against the world’s best.
England 75 (29) – Tries: Rosie Galligan (3), Poppy Cleall (2), Shaunagh Brown, Connie Powell (3), Marlie Packer, Sadia Kabeya (2), Abby Dow. Conversions: Zoe Harrison (4), Helena Rowland.