Zoe Aldcroft and Simon Middleton on verge of history with England Red Roses

IT IS not always easy to glean much about a team’s performance following a victory as fulsome as England Women’s 89-0 rout of the USA but head coach Simon Middleton insists he has learned plenty about his players.

Zoe Aldcroft: The forward from Yorkshire scored a try on her first international as captain. (Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images)

Certainly, they show no sign of slowing up; Sunday’s success was not only England’s biggest victory over these opponents but stretched their winning run to an incredible 18 Tests, equalling the men’s side’s own best.

It is no surprise they are full of confidence and – as they break before attempting to defend the Six Nations in the Spring – they will rightly look back over 2021 with a sense of pride.

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Worryingly, for their rivals at least, there appears to be still more to come from Middleton’s side as they hurtle down the home straight towards the World Cup in less than a year’s time.

Zoe Aldcroft of England scores their seventh try during the Autumn International match between England and USA at Sixways Stadium. (Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images)

Ranked No1 in the world and having brutally swept aside world champions New Zealand (twice), Canada and America this autumn, there is little wonder they are so highly-fancied when it comes to that main goal.

Of course, plenty can happen between now and the start of that rescheduled tournament in New Zealand but Middleton’s squad – who scored 15 tries at Worcester – are showing all the right signs.

They have a growing depth of quality in their squad and full-time professionalism is clearly paying dividends.

Scarborough-born Zoe Aldcroft,who turned 25 on Friday, captained the side for the first time as Middleton experimented with his leadership group.

She earned high praise while Abby Dow, the Wasps full-back, scored another remarkable effort just a week after being nominated for the International Rugby Players’ Women’s try of the year for her scintillating effort against France in April.

“We’ve learned a lot about the squad,” said Middleton, the Yorkshireman who knows his side will stand alone – in both men’s and women’s rugby – if they extend their winning record to 19 Tests in the opening game of the Six Nations.

“Sadia Kabeya was absolutely outstanding again.

“Abby Dow can cause a lot of problems from full-back and has shown that on the international stage.

“Zoe Aldcroft can definitely lead an England team.

“The debutants who came on were fantastic: Connie Powell gets a try and I thought Lucy Packer was brilliant.

“She really set the game alight when she came on. They’re key positions for us, hooker and scrum-half.”

The former Castleford Tigers winger added: “I’m absolutely delighted with the result and performance.

“We defended fantastically well. Sometimes when you score that many tries, you overlook it a little bit, but defensively we were aggressive.

“We didn’t contest the breakdown well enough in the first half, but defence shows the desire of a side, and we were desperate when they had the ball not to let them score.

“In the second period we were brilliant.”

Of that, there is no argument. Does history beckon?