Amy Hardcastle bagged a remarkable ten-minute hat-trick as England Women claimed a hard-earned 26-16 win over France Women at Stade de la Mer, Perpignan, last night.
Hardcastle's treble, alongside a Kayleigh Bulman effort, helped England lead 22-4 at the break.
Despite two quickfire France tries at the start of the second period, Bradford Bulls captain Kirsty Moroney helped herself to a second-half score which sealed the contest.
The game was played in sweltering 32-degree heat, with water breaks taking place mid-way through each half, but Hardcastle, the powerful Bradford centre, helped England get on top as she ran in three tries in quick succession.
Featherstone wing Bulman then scored a stunning 90-metre solo effort to put the visitors comfortably ahead, before Ophelia Coll hit back for France just before half time.
Tara Stanley's three goals meant Chris Chapman's side were 18 points up at the interval.
Despite a dominant first period, England were on the wrong end of the game's next two tries; Manson Sanarra exposing a poor start to the second half with back-to-back four-pointers.
With just ten points in it, the energetic hosts were beginning to turn the screw, but scrum half Moroney's try gave England some breathing space, making it 26-12.
Though France substitute Sandrone Lloria got over to make it 26-16 late on, England kept their composure to hold out and hang on for the win.
Tryscorers Kayleigh Bulman and Amy Hardcastle stood out, with captain Andrea Dobson earning praise in the pack, while Thatto Heath's Chantelle Crowl put in an eye-catching effort on her international debut, playing the full 80 minutes at prop.
Both sets of players had to contend with sweltering conditions
France put up a fight on home turf
England are next in action on Saturday, June 24, at 5pm (4pm UK time), as they take on France once more in Perpignan.
1. Charlotte Booth (Bradford Bulls)
2. Tara Stanley (Thatto Heath-St Helens)
3. Amy Hardcastle (Bradford Bulls)
4. Jess Courtman (Bradford Bulls)
5. Kayleigh Bulman (Featherstone Rovers)
6. Faye Gaskin (Thatto Heath-St Helens)
7. Kirsty Moroney (Bradford Bulls)
8. Danika Priim (Bradford Bulls)
9. Lois Forsell (Bradford Bulls)
10. Chantelle Crowl (debut) (Thatto Heath-St Helens)
11. Emily Rudge (Thatto Heath-St Helens)
12. Shona Hoyle (debut) (Bradford Bulls)
13. Andrea Dobson (c) (Featherstone Rovers)
14. Natalie Harrowell (Featherstone Rovers)
15. Sinead Peach (Featherstone Rovers)
16. Brogan Churm (debut) (Featherstone Rovers)
17. Rachel Thompson (debut) (Thatto Heath-St Helens)
1. Elise Ciria
2. Norgane Richard
3. Laureane Biville
4. Lucre Castillo
5. Manon Sanarra
6. Ophelie Coll
7. Alice Varela
8. Cyndia Mansard
9. Pauline Segvier
10. Leila Bessahli
11. Anniston Nikalef
12. Gusenaelee Urbes
13. Jeanne Bernard
14. Fanny Ramos
15. Perrine Nontsarrat
16. Sandrine Lloria
17. Gazelle Alvernye