Ireland Women started their Six Nations campaign with a big loss to a strong England team, the visitors leaving Dublin with a comfortable 7 – 51 bonus point win.
Ireland (0) 7
TRY: Penalty Try
England (13) 51
TRY: Jess Breach, Sarah McKenna, Sarah Bern, Lark Davis, Katy Daley-Mclean, Zoe Harrison, Emily Scott, Bryony Cleall
CON: Katy Daley-Mclean (4)
PEN: Katy Daley-Mclean
Ireland started well but it was a blunt approach, plenty of endeavour but they struggled to get over the gain line. England, on the other hand, were clinical in response. A well worked lineout on the half way, provided quick ball to Jess Breach, who powered past the Irish defence to score an unconverted try in the corner.
A penalty half way through the first half allowed Katy Daley-Mclean to push England’s lead to 8-0. Shortly after, a miss-throw at an Irish line out went to Sarah Bern who went on a rampaging run through the middle of the field, Daley-Mclean identified the unorganised Ireland defence but her grubber looked to be heading for the touch in goal before Sarah McKenna popped up to ground the ball just before the dead ball line. Conversion missed bringing the score to 0 – 13 with 30 minutes played.
Ireland tried to respond with Claire Molloy to the fore and the home side looked to be gaining some ascendancy in the scrum. However, the English defence was quick to get in their faces and Ireland played most of the half on the back foot. The teams went into the break with no further score.
England upped the tempo at the start of the second half with Bern finishing off a break by Poppy Cleall and minutes later Lark Davis went over at the bottom of a maul as England flexed their muscles. Both were converted to extend England’s lead to 0 – 27
England’s power and pace continued to cause issues for Ireland all over the park. More pressure on Ireland in their own 22 allowed Daley-Mclean to wrongfoot the scrambling defence with the outhalf taking the advantage to 0 – 34 by converting her own try.
Anna Caplice made a big physical impact off the bench. Youngster Emma Hooban came in at hooker and Leah Lyons move to tighthead saw Ireland dominate two five-metre scrums with the collapse resulting in a penalty try to take Ireland 7 England 34.
However, that was it for Ireland and tries from replacements Zoe Harrison, Emily Scott and Bryony Cleall, took the visitors tally past the 50 point mark with Daley-Mclean converted only one to give a final score of Ireland 7 England 51.
England’s clinical performance, scoring eight tries in all, was too much for Ireland . The Red Roses will be going into their match against France next week with a lot of confidence, in what is likely to be the title decider.
Ireland need to regroup in preparation of their match against Scotland. They worked hard through the phases though they were too slow in thought and deed. However, their scrum looks like a real strength. Scotland suffered a big defeat to Italy at home, so Ireland should go into the game with confidence but they need to find that attacking edge to get over the whitewash.