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Today’s rugby headlines as England’s new star names Wales player as toughest opponent

Your rugby morning headlines Saturday, March 26.

New England star picks Williams as toughest opponent

England full-back Freddie Steward has been singing the praises of Welsh counterpart Liam Williams.

The pair went head-to-head when Wales went to Twickenham during this year’s Six Nations and the two-time Lion obviously left an impression on the 21-year-old.

When asked for the toughest opponent he faced in his debut Six Nations, Steward told RugbyPass: “Liam Williams was someone I was really excited to play against.

Read next:Inquiry into Wales match slammed as whitewash

“Obviously, he’s another full-back and one of his best strengths is in the air so, for me, that was a really exciting prospect, to go toe-to-toe with one of the best in the world.

“He’s very strong, he’s a good runner, he’s very well-rounded.”

Asking the questions, former Scotland international Ryan Wilson added: “Not the biggest man but he is a strong bloke, isn’t he?

“Scaffolder by trade, that man. He’s a tough bloke

“When you hit him, it’s just like ‘you shouldn’t be able to do this, why are you so hard to hit?'”

Booth laments ‘painful’ Ospreys defeat

Ospreys boss Toby Booth has described his side’s defeat to the Lions as ‘painful’.

Booth’s charges were second best for much of the contest in Johannesburg as they lost control of proceedings and ended up on the wrong end of a 45-15 scoreline.

The Lions ran in seven tries, scoring almost at will towards the end of the match.

Asked for his thoughts after the game, he said: “Painful. Yeah, very painful.

“We knew what we had to be good at and we weren’t good enough for long periods and that’s very, very disappointing.

“We knew it was going to be loose and fast, and any team that allows that to happen is going to struggle defensively.

“They stuck together, they hung in there. But we can’t be satisfied with a scoreline like that.”

Wales Women start new era

Wales’ women’s rugby team begin their Six Nations campaign today as they take on Ireland.

It’s the beginning of a new era following the introduction of full-time professional contracts for 12 players, 12 part-time retainer contracts and a new coaching team at the helm.

Wales are hoping to show how far they have come in a short space of time after losing to the Irish 45-0 in last season’s Six Nations. It proved to be the real low point for Wales Women and prompted public calls for better support from the WRU which we are now seeing.

The game kicks off at 4.45pm.

Wales Women: 15. Kayleigh Powell, 14. Lisa Neumann, 13. Hannah Jones, 12. Kerin Lake, 11. Jasmine Joyce, 10. Elinor Snowsill, 9. Keira Bevan, 1. Gwenllian Pyrs, 2. Carys Phillips, 3. Cerys Hale, 4. Natalia John, 5. Gwen Crabb, 6. Alisha Butchers, 7. Alex Callender, 8. Siwan Lillicrap (capt).

Replacements: 16. Kelsey Jones, 17. Cara Hope, 18. Donna Rose, 19. Sioned Harries, 20. Bethan Lewis, 21. Ffion Lewis, 22. Robyn Wilkins, 23. Sisilia Tuipulotu.

Ireland: 15. Eimear Considine, 14. Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, 13. Eve Higgins, 12. Stacey Flood, 11. Lucy Mulhall, 10. Nicole Cronin, 9. Aoibheann Reilly, 1. Linda Djougang, 2. Neve Jones, 3. Katie O’Dwyer, 4. Nichola Fryday (capt), 5. Sam Monaghan, 6. Dorothy Wall, 7. Edel McMahon, 8. Brittany Hogan.

Replacements : 16. Emma Hooban, 17. Chloe Pearse, 18. Christy Haney, 19. Anna McGann, 20. Hannah O’Connor, 21. Kathryn Dane, 22. Enya Breen, 23. Beibhinn Parsons.

Munster win

Fly-half Ben Healy kicked 21 points as Munster got back to winning ways with a 51-22 United Rugby Championship victory over Benetton at Musgrave Park.

Rhyno Smith’s try on the stroke of half-time cut Munster’s lead to 17-10, with the hosts registering converted scores through Matt Gallagher and Craig Casey.

However, tries from Simon Zebo, Gavin Coombes, replacement Jack O’Sullivan and Damian De Allende – with Giacomo Da Re and Callum Braley responding for Benetton – saw Munster chalk up a first win in three in bonus-point style.

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