Middleton sings the praises of Red Roses after overcoming Scotland hurdle

England head coach Simon Middleton and England's Sarah Hunter (Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra)

From playing with sun on their backs in France to facing a snowstorm in Scotland, the weather could not have been more different in the Red Roses’ first two Women’s Six Nations matches.

But head coach Simon Middleton was delighted to see his England players thrive in the contrasting conditions as they thrashed Scotland 53-0 at BT Murrayfield.

Sarah Bern, Jess Breach and Abby Dow crossed before the snow poured down in the second half.

But nothing could stop England as Emily Scott struck twice and Dow, Sarah Hunter and Claudia MacDonald went over to complete the rout and back up last week’s 19-13 victory over France.

“I am really pleased,” Middleton said.

“It was a really tough game and it’s impossible to quantify just how cold and difficult the conditions were, certainly for the coaches as we were sat up in a box watching the game.

“But I thought the girls stuck at it and the performance got better as the game went on and ironically as the conditions got worse. We pride ourselves on being a side that can play in any conditions.

“In the space of two weeks we have had two completely contrasting environments to play in as we had 26 degrees last week and what felt like minus 26 degrees this week.”

The match was initially scheduled to take place at the Scotstoun Stadium on Sunday afternoon only to be postponed due to extreme weather as a result of Storm Ciara.

But Middleton was thrilled by how his side coped with the disruption as England powered to victory – and the top of the Women’s Six Nations standings – in freezing Edinburgh.

“We spoke about being adaptable and being able to stay focused,” Middleton said. “There was a lot of things we needed to get in place and we did that.

“The squad have managed to switch off, spend a little bit of time with their family that have come over which was good for them and they benefited from that.

“Full credit to them as they have switched themselves back on, got into game mode. They are a credit to the shirt.”

Scott produced a player-of-the-match showing but Middleton was keen to single out a number of other top performances.

“I thought Emily played very well and like the team she got better as the game went on,” he said. “But I thought there were a lot of good performances out there.

“Sarah Beckett was outstanding, Sarah Bern was phenomenal and Poppy Cleall had a great game. Abby Dow also scored a magical try so there were good performances all over.

“I was particularly pleased with Claudia MacDonald who came on at scrum-half.

“She played behind Mo (Natasha Hunt) and Leanne Riley for quite a while now but she had an opportunity [against Scotland] and took it with both hands.”