Ireland Women were overpowered by a clinical England as they shipped four second half tries to lose the Six Nations Grand Slam decider 7 – 34 at a wet and windy Donnybrook on Friday night.

An early try by Amy Wilson Hardy was the only score in a tight first half. However, England pulled away in the second period with tries from Laura Keates, Amy Cokayne, Emily Scarratt and Lydia Thompson. Ireland’s only response was a 66th minute try from Leah Lyons.

Ireland Women faced the elements in the first half and they produced one of their best halves of rugby as they restricted England to five points. Their scrum and lineout were on top, with Marie Louise Reilly dominating the aerial battles on her 50th cap.

Jenny Murphy had the game of her life in the centre, the Leinster player involved in everything good about Ireland. Alison Miller created problems every time she got the ball and Claire Molloy was a constant thorn in the English attack slowing down or turning over the England ball every chance she got. Larissa Muldoon kept the pack under control with her constant chatter and chiding and Sophie Spence and Paula Fitzpatrick responded with powerful displays.

Unfortunately for the home side though they were up against a strong and determined English side, a team worthy of their hype, a team so much more mentally tough than their overhyped male counterparts. The English gave as good as they got and, with the magnificent Emily Scarratt calling the shots in midfield, they had the benefit of a true superstar of the world game.

It was no coincidence that it was a long skip pass from Scarratt that put  Amy Wilson Hardy in for the only score of the first half after a period of pressure on the Ireland line. Scarratt missed the difficult conversion from out wide to leave the score at 0 – 5 after 17 minutes.

Ireland responded well with Murphy and Millar leading the charge. Unfortunately Nora Stapleton had an uncarachersistic off night from the boot, relieving pressure on the English defence. However by the end of the half the Irish were camped in the English red zone and really should have come away with a score, Sene Naoupu and Paula Fitzpatrick both having chances. However, the visitor’s defence held firm and the teams turned round with the score reading 0- 5 to England.

The home side lost influential players Muldoon and Molloy early in the second half and England began to get on top. Scarratt once again put England in the right place and, after a period of pressure from the English pack, replacement prop Laura Keates crossed for an unconverted try.

TRY: Leah Lyons. CON: Nora Stapleton
TRY: Amy Wilson Hardy, Laura Keates, Amy Cokayne, Emily Scarratt, Lydia Thompson. CON: Emily Scarratt (3). PEN: Emily Scarratt.

15 Kim Flood
14 Hannah Tyrrell
13 Jenny Murphy
12 Sene Naoupu
11 Alison Miller
10 Nora Stapleton
9 Larissa Muldoon
1 Lindsay Peat
2 Leah Lyons
3 Ailis Egan
4 Sophie Spence
5 Marie Louise Reilly
6 Ciara Griffin
7 Claire Molloy
8 Paula Fitzpatrick
16 Ciara O’Connor
17 Ilse van Staden
18 Ruth O’Reilly
19 Ciara Cooney
20 Nichola Fryday
21 Mary Healy
22 Nikki Caughey
23 Mairead Coyne

A break by Scarrett once again wreaked havoc in the Irish defence and replacement Mairead Coyne was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on, Ireland somewhat fortunate not to have Tyrell carded for the same offence moments earlier. Scarrett knocked over the resultant penalty and within minutes the wonderful Scarrett sent hooker Amy Cokayne through for England’s third try. Scarrett added the conversion and England had built up a 0 – 20 lead by the 62nd minute.

Ireland battled back for Leah Lyons to claim her third try of the tournament, after Ilse van Staden went close. From an Ulster perspective it was good to see van Staden slot in seamlessly for the impressive Lindsay Peat, the Cooke player’s powerful scrummaging game to the fore, but by this stage Ireland were chasing a game that was shortly to slip beyond their grasp.

Appropriately it was Scarratt that delivered the killer blow as she finished off a break by Danielle Waterman with consummate ease, the England centre converting her own try with just over ten minutes remaining.

Replacement winger Lydia Thompson added some gloss to the final score with a blistering break from midfield to race in unopposed, Scarratt again converting to give a final score of Ireland Women 7 England Women 34.

Match pictures should be up later and we’ll have a full break down on the players later this week. : 😎