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Bern at the double for pitch-perfect Red Roses

Sarah Bern scored twice during a remarkable Player of the Match performance as the Red Roses made it three from three in their Autumn Series campaign thanks to a 51-12 win over Canada at The Stoop.

Simon Middleton's charges, who are now unbeaten in 17 matches, set a blistering early pace, as their forwards - including Poppy Cleall and Abbie Ward, both of whom were earning their 50th cap - pounded the Canadian defence with heavy carries off scrum half Claudia MacDonald. 

The pressure paid off after just four minutes. Zoe Harrison with a quick tap penalty fed Helena Rowland, who fizzed a 10-metre pass to Heather Cowell. The winger collected and sprinted into the corner for a try on her Test debut. Harrison missed the conversion.

The Maple Leafs took the lead on the 22-minute mark, as wing Paige Farries intercepted a wayward Harrison pass to canter in unopposed. Fly half Brianna Miller added the extras to make it 5-7. 

It was short lived though, as on the Red Roses' next surge toward the Canadian line, Bristol powerhouse prop Sarah Bern bounced off two defenders to claim England's second try. Harrison followed up her successful conversion with a 30-metre penalty minutes later.  

As half time approached a moment of magic saw Canada close the gap, thanks to a superb solo score from wing Sabrina Poulin, who hit an arcing run off an attacking scrum to zip over into the corner.

But Cowell was on hand in the final play of the first half to cross for her second score, the try identical to her first, giving England a 20-12 lead at the break.

Two minutes into the second half Bern hit a line and broke through to score her second, and Harrison's extras extended the Red Roses lead to 15 points. 

In what was their first match outside of North America since 2018, Canada continued to cause problems through their physicality and ambition to attack from anywhere.  

But the Red Roses began to take control of the Test, and as the hour mark approached, Claudia MacDonald darted off the back of a rolling maul, splitting the Canadian midfield to dot down under the sticks, giving Harrison the easiest of conversions.

Another penalty from the boot of Harrison, her twelfth point of the match, kept the scoreboard ticking over, and an Alex Matthews try 10 minutes from the end, was followed by another MacDonald score - one converted by Rowland, the other by Harrison - made it 51-12 and secured the win.


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