England are in full swing in the second half while a transformed Ireland suffers a grievous Six Nations defeat
Ireland more than held their own for the first 40 minutes of this one-sided duel, but there was always the feeling that it was only a matter of time before England would pull away.
Reland will regret that the inevitable attack began so soon after the break despite the England class putting so much into the tenacious and determined defense in the first half.
The lopsided result shouldn’t diminish Ireland’s efforts in front of a record crowd of 15,836 at Welford Road, but the reality is England are on a different level.
As a professional team that lead was to be expected but it is worth remembering that this is an Irish team with no nine players either serving for the Sevens or injured.
Greg McWilliams’ side could not help themselves at times as their struggles were damaging from set pieces, while Dorothy Wall’s yellow card cost dearly as England scored three tries in the 10 minutes while the back row was off.
To make matters worse, Sene Naoupu was sent off leaving her side with just 14 players with 13 minutes left, while Eimear Considine was sent off with what appeared to be a serious leg injury and Nicole Cronin was also sent off.
Amid the carnage, Ireland had great performances from Neve Jones, Linda Djougang, Edel McMahon and Hannah O’Connor, all stopping themselves.
It wasn’t enough to stop England from rebelling, however, scoring 11 tries en route to an emphatic victory that narrowly missed the 79-0 defeat Ireland suffered in 2002.
The Red Roses have their sights set on the Grand Slam, while Ireland’s attention now turns to Scotland’s visit to Belfast next weekend in a bid to get rid of that nightmare as soon as possible.
A first-minute penalty gave England the platform to find deep in the 22 and once they put the maul up Ireland had no answer for power and Lark Davies scored from the bottom.
England thought they were back in shortly after, only for the TMO to correctly spot a forward pass in build-up.
It was only a brief respite, however, as the hosts increased the pressure in the scrum period and when they aimed for the corner again from a penalty, Maul caused further damage as Sarah Bern doubled her side’s lead midway through the first half.
The floodgates threatened to open, but Ireland stood their ground and resisted the pressure that was coming their way.
With increased confidence, they should have sat on the scoreboard, but after a light passage Cronin missed a shot in front of the post.
Jones and McMahon won crucial turnovers to stem the tide and then Ireland kept the English muzzle over the line in a big psychological boost.
Despite Ireland camped in their own 22, England were lavishly in possession and they should have been reduced to 14 players when Leanne Infante’s swinging arm made contact with Michelle Claffey’s face. Somehow, Australian referee Amber McLachlan thought it was just a ‘push’ and didn’t further punish the lively scrum half.
Ireland had to be on guard until half-time and shortly after Fryday awarded a punctured penalty debutant Molly Scuffil-McCabe produced a stunning tackle that left Ireland 10-0 at half-time.
Ireland would have welcomed the breather but England came flying out of the traps after the restart and as they moved the ball out through hands to Marlie Packer the back row turned and this time centurion Emily Scarratt added the breaks.
Things quickly went from bad to worse for Ireland, who lost to a yellow card due to a high tackle from Wall, and England immediately used their numerical advantage, securing the bonus point try courtesy of Davies’ second try, converted to an opener by Scarratt 24:0 in the lead.
Suddenly there were holes in the Irish defense and with Wall still in the barrel England ran in two more tries. In the first, Lydia Thompson scored from a crisp set piece before Poppy Cleall bulldozed his way after another powerful maul.
Wall returned to action but England didn’t let up and backup prop Hannah Botterman went over for her side’s seventh try, with Scarratt again adding the extras.
After a long break in play due to Considine’s injury, Cleall scored her side’s second and eighth try, with Scarratt’s extra two putting England to the 50-point mark.
Attempts continued and this time it was Ellie Kildunne’s turn to put her name on the scoresheet and Zoe Harrison converted Scarratt’s out for a HIA after Naoupu’s high tackle, costing the veteran center a red card.
Kildunne scored their second try soon after and although England also had to finish with 14 men due to Cleall’s late injury, the hosts managed an eleventh try through Thompson. Harrison’s conversion completed the defeat.
England—H Rowland; L Thompson, E Scarratt (Aitchison 67-77), H Aitchison (A Reed, 59) J Breach (E Kildunne 44; Z Harrison, L Infante (N Hunt 59); V Cornborough (H Botterman 47), L Davies (A Cokayne 47), S Bern (M Muir 47), Z Aldcroft, A Ward (R Galligan 56), A Matthews, M Packer, S Hunter (Captain) (P Cleall 48).
Ireland—M Scuffil-McCabe, A Doyle, S Naoupu, E Breen, E Considine (N Byrne 63); N Cronin (M Claffey 29), K Dane (A Reilly 73); L Djougang (C Pearse 73), N Jones (E Hooban, 73), C Haney (K O’Dwyer 43); N. Fryday (Captain), A. McDermott (G. Moore 50); D Wall (MOg O’Leary 65), E McMahon, H O’Connor.
Ref: A McLachlan (Australia)
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/six-nations/england-run-rampant-in-second-half-as-much-changed-ireland-suffer-heavy-six-nations-defeat-41582817.html England are in full swing in the second half while a transformed Ireland suffers a grievous Six Nations defeat