WALES stand on the brink of a first World Cup finals appearance after moving back to the top of their France 2019 qualifying group in Newport.

Boss Jayne Ludlow saw her side leapfrog Group 1 leaders England at Spytty Park, going a point clear of Phil Neville’s team with one round-robin fixture, against the English in August, left.

England have a game to play after that encounter on Welsh soil but it is more than likely that Wales will have to beat their near neighbours to secure automatic qualification.

A sell-out crowd cheered Wales on to an emphatic victory over the Russians on a bone dry pitch in Gwent.

A scrappy first half finished goalless but the hosts ran riot after the break with Kayleigh Green netting twice and Natasha Harding also getting on the scoresheet.

Wales’ all-time record scorer Helen Ward went close to breaking the deadlock before the interval but blasted over the target.

Harding fired over the top too on the half-hour mark, before Elena Danilova’s poor challenge on Jess Fishlock sparked an angry reaction from Angharad James.

Another Harding effort was cleared by a Russian defender after the shot had beaten the keeper.

But it took just three minutes of the second period for Green to settle any nerves in the Welsh camp.

Rachel Rowe did well to find space in the area to cross, Green miscued her first effort but made no mistake when given another opportunity from a tight angle.

And Green all but sealed the three points with a delightful lob following excellent build-up play involving Rowe and Ward.

Harding put the cherry on the cake in the 68th minute when she slotted past the Russian goalkeeper at the second time of asking having been found by Green.

Wales: O’Sullivan, Roberts, Ingle (capt), Dykes, Ladd, Harding, James, Rowe, Fishlock, Green, Ward. Substitutes: Evans, Griffiths, Lawrence, Skinner, Hughes, Nolan, Miles.