England crush Spain in World Cup opener as they begin title defence

Kay Wilson scored four tries during England's 56-5 victory over Spain on Wednesday. Charles McQuillan - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images

England kick-started their Rugby World Cup title defence with a 56-5 win over Spain in Dublin Wednesday.

The Red Roses dominated from the beginning with two early tries from Bristol's Meg Jones -- who started ahead of vice captain Emily Scarratt -- and 25-year-old Kay Wilson.

By halftime, Simon Middleton's side were sitting comfortably at 24-5 -- the only scoring opportunity for Spain came through a mistimed pass from England that allowed Patricia Garcia to dart through England's defence before offloading to Diana Gasso and granting the Spaniards their only try of the match.

Coach Middleton rolled on some of England's more experienced players at the break and two minutes into the second half Scarratt touched down another try, followed quickly by a second from Harriet Millar-Mills to give the defending champions a 34-5 lead.

England continued the charge -- increasing their try tally to 10 -- to secure a comfortable win, with Richmond's Alex Matthews also leading a solid defensive effort.

Speaking to ITV after the game, England captain Sarah Hunter said: "We're happy to get a win under our belts. It's job one done. There's plenty for us to improve for our next game.

"Spain came at us and gave us some problems at times. It's pleasing to get that run out and get that training on the pitch.

"At times we did OK but we have to go away and work on some aspects. In tournament rugby you have to win every game in front of you."

England will face Italy in their next pool match on Aug. 13.

There was less positive news for Wales in their Pool A opener, as Selica Winiata touched down a hat trick to help New Zealand send an ominous message with a dominant 44-12 victory at Billings Park.

Hosts Ireland had the boot of Nora Stapleton to thank for a tremendous 19-17 victory over Australia in Pool C. Her conversions proved the difference after tries from Larissa Muldoon, Ciara Griffin and Sophie Spence ignited Dublin.

The highest scorers of the opening day were Canada, who beat Hong Kong 98-0 with Magali Harvey claiming five tries. France ran them close with a 72-14 win over Japan, while England's Pool B opponents, the U.S., beat Italy 24-12.