England can be history-makers, says Red Roses coach Simon Middleton after win over Canada

Leanne Infante and Claudia MacDonald celebrate a try
Only France have managed to get within 25 points of England in the Red Roses’ run of 17 wins

Coach Simon Middleton has challenged England to “mark themselves in history” over the next 12 months after they stretched their winning streak to 17 Tests with victory over Canada.

The Red Roses can match their male counterparts’ record of 18 straight Test wins by beating the United States next weekend in Worcester.

The Rugby World Cup, postponed by 12 months, is also less than a year away.

“We want to set the record and keep going,” said Middleton.

“We want to make it as difficult to beat as possible. We talk about great teams. This team isn’t great yet, but it has a chance to mark itself in history.

“I wouldn’t bet against this team doing it either because these girls are so determined and work so hard. It would take a good team to beat us now.”

For a time in the first half, it appeared that Canada might do just that.

The underdog visitors led after 20 minutes and were only three points short of England just before half-time.

But England’s strength in depth and physicality wore down their opposition as they crossed for seven tries and ran out 51-12 winners at the Stoop.

Middleton said that the psychological challenge of backing up their successive record wins over world champions New Zealand added to the physical test posed by a powerful Canada team.

“Absolutely not,” replied Middleton when it was put to him that complacency could have played a part in a tightly contested first half.

“But whether there was a bit of comedown… when you know you are going to play the Black Ferns twice and you get really up for it, it is really hard to back up consistently.

“I thought our warm-up was quiet, just lacking a bit of energy.

“We actually started well but when Canada got into the game, they are just a good side. They were exactly what we thought they were going to be and a bit more for sure.”

Wing Cyrielle Banet (14) scored two tries in France's win over the Black Ferns
Wing Cyrielle Banet (14) scored two tries in France’s win over the Black Ferns on Saturday

The evening before England’s win, France won their first match of a two-Test series against the Black Ferns 38-13, running in six tries in Pau.

Middleton, whose side edged a gruelling Six Nations decider 10-6 against France earlier this year, said it was the result he expected.

“It didn’t surprise me,” he said.

“The potential was always there. France are a good side, a really good side. They have got a massive opportunity at the World Cup, same as we have.

“New Zealand will come back stronger from that and, as you have seen, if Canada continue to progress they will definitely be a threat.”

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