- Clean sheet and bonus point delight England manager Gary Street
- 23-tackle Alphonsi sets the tone for England Women
England 27 Ireland 0
Highlights courtesy of IRB. See more at www.rwcwomens.com/video.
Women’s Rugby World Cup 2010 hosts England opened their tournament campaign with a determined and hard fought bonus point victory against Ireland at Surrey Sports Park in Guildford on Friday evening.
Despite Ireland failing to get on the score board, England’s home nation rivals made the hosts work for the victory and the 27-0 score-line didn’t reflect the intensity of this encounter.
England flanker Maggie Alphonsi was deservedly named Woman of the Match. The Saracens powerhouse executed a devastating 23 tackles as well as making some superb breaks, and in the end bagged the all important bonus point try in the dying minutes of the game.
AUDIO – Maggie Alphonsi's reaction to the win against Ireland
Alphonsi was not the only star of the match with all of England’s 22 making a real impression. Fiona Pocock, Amy Turner and Katherine Merchant grabbed the tries for the backs but the forwards also dominated upfront with some powerful drives.
England Head Coach Gary Street said: “We have been training for this world cup for a very long time so to get our first win under our belts is very pleasing, and especially to get the bonus point. We did the things we wanted to do and I feel like I can say that this was a good day in the office.
“On Tuesday we’ll play Kazakhstan, so now we have got to go back and get our heads down and start concentrating on that match. There are things we must improve on and hopefully we can execute them for our second encounter.”
To see video of Gary Street's post match reactions visit www.facebook.com/officialenglandrugby.
Photo: Paul Seiser
England put the pressure on Ireland straight from the first whistle, and went close to scoring when Ireland immediately lost possession. But the hosts had to wait a few more minutes for their first score, until a period of constant pressure saw fullback Danielle Waterman find a space and then offload. Richmond wing Fiona Pocock was waiting on the left wing, and took on the ball to touch down after eight minutes. Fly-half and vice captain Katy McLean added the conversion. England were frustrated after the early try though as Ireland held firm.
England continued to dominate possession and territory, with Alphonsi one of a number of players making some good breaks. Ireland, however, came close to scoring when they managed to break from their half but a superb cover tackle by Waterman put an end to that challenge.
England gathered pace just before half time with Merchant scoring the second try. An England line-out saw the ball spun into the midfield, and Alphonsi took it on. She smashed her way through Ireland’s defence but couldn’t make the try line though. England were, however, in support and got the ball out to the right wing and a good pass by McLean set Merchant up for the score on the right wing. McLean this time couldn’t make the conversion, or a penalty and England went into half time with a 12-0 lead.
Ireland’s steely determination didn’t falter after the restart, as they continued to force England to graft for every point they chased. Their fullback, Niamh Briggs, had a good shot at a drop goal but the wind sent the ball wayward.
AUDIO – England's Rochelle Clark on reaching her 50 cap milestone
England, however, did capitalise on their points scoring chances and their pressure paid off with scrum half Amy Turner barging her way over the try line in the right corner on 56 minutes.
The fourth and bonus point try looked for some time as if it might elude England with Ireland refusing to give up. McLean managed to stroke over a penalty but England had to wait for Alphonsi to grab the last gasp 76th minute score.
England will now play Kazakhstan on Tuesday August 24 at Surrey Sports Park, kick off 6.30pm.
For WRWC 2010 tickets visit the WRWC ticket pages on RFU.com or call 0844 844 2010. Rugby fans who buy tickets for the WRWC 2010 will also be put on a priority ticketing information list for the 2015 men's Rugby World Cup in England. For a full schedule of fixtures and to follow England in the WRWC visit www.rfu.com/wrwc.
15 Danielle Waterman (Worcester), 14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 13 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), 12 Rachael Burford (Richmond), 11Fiona Pocock (Richmond), 10 Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 9 Amy Turner (Richmond), 1 Rochelle Clark (Team Northumbria), 2 Amy Garnett (Saracens), 3 Sophie Hemming (Bristol), 4 Becky Essex (Richmond), 5 Jo McGilchrist (Wasps), 6 Heather Fisher (Worcester), 7 Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens), 8 Catherine Spencer (Bristol). Replacements: 16 Emma Crocker (Richmond), 17 Claire Purdy (Wasps), 18 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 19 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield), 20 La Toya Mason (Wasps), 21 Alice Richardson(Richmond), 22 Charlotte Barras (Saracens)
Tries: Pocock, Merchant, Turner, Alphonsi
Conversions: McLean (2)
Substitutions: Richardson for Burford, Purdy for Hemming, Taylor for Essex, Hunter for Fisher (all 61), Turner for Mason (72), Barras for Merchant, Croker for Garnett
15 Niamh Briggs, 14 Amy Davis, 13 Jo O'Sullivan, 12 Lynne Cantwell, 11 Nora Stapleton, 10 Helen Brosnan, 9 Tania Rosser, 1 Fiona Coghlan (C), 2 Gillian Bourke, 3 Louise Austin, 4 Kate O'Loughlin, 5 Marie Louise Reilly, 6 Orla Brennan, 7 Claire Molloy, 8 Joy Neville. Replacements: 16 Yvonne Nolan, 17 Laura Guest, 18 Carol Staunton, 19 Sinead Ryan, 20 Louise Beamish, 21 Shannon Houston, 22 Mairead Kelly
Referee: Sarah Corrigan
Assistant Referees: Kerstin Ljungdahl & Barbara Guastini