- Four tries seals England win
- England on track to retain RBS 6 Nations title
England Women 22-5 Ireland Women
England Women overcame difficult rain soaked and muddy conditions at Esher RFC on Sunday to run in 22-5 winners against Ireland in the third round of the RBS 6 Nations.
The victory hands England their third win in the tournament and ensures that they stay on track to defend their RBS 6 Nations crown with games against Scotland and France still to go.
After a heavy night of rain and wind the pitch was only deemed playable mid-morning, meaning the conditions affected the game but Gary Street's side still managed to play their own game and ran in an impressive four tries.
England Head Coach Gary Street said: "This was our toughest match so far in the 6 Nations, and certainly the conditions did affect both sides playing today. Even so we still managed to score some quality tries and that says a lot about the willingness of this side and how they want to play."
England Assistant Coach Graham Smith added: "Ireland seem to save everything they have to throw at us and that is what they did today. They were very difficult conditions but our scrum and line out were good and certainly the forwards, who enjoy these sorts of conditions, were beaming when they came off the pitch."
England made a powerful statement early on, executing a line-out catch and drive with ease after four minutes, and Saracen flanker Maggie Alphonsi barged her way over the line.
McLean didn’t make the conversion, but England soon powered into a 12 point lead when hard graft by the forwards saw flanker Heather Fisher steal posession from the Irish.
Her break in Ireland’s 22 then saw 19-year-old centre Emily Scarratt find a great line and carve her way through Ireland’s defence to touch down and claim her 14th try in 16 games. McLean this time made no mistake with the conversion and stroked the ball over to hand England a comfortable 12-0 lead after just six minutes.
Ireland’s spirits did not dip though and they fought back to just a seven point deficit at half time. Some good pressure from the visitors in second quarter saw them dig deep in England’s 22, and with the home side giving away needless penalties Ireland kept attacking.
Finally, despite some excellent defending by England, a line out catch and drive saw Ireland pile their way over the line with lock Kate O'Loughlin claiming the points. Full back Niamh Briggs missed the conversion and England kept their seven point lead at the break.
Street rung the changes after the restart with Rachael Burford, Amy Turner and Jane Leonard getting their chance. All the players made an impact and their efforts paid off just before the final quarter.
Some more good work by the forwards, with the pack gaining valuable space up field, then gave England’s backs the chance to break and with the ball being recycled out through Turner, Katy McLean, Burford, full back Claire Allan was able to make a break and score England’s third try.
Again patience proved crucial for England, and with just 11 minutes remaining England claimed their final try courtesy of scrum half Turner. Replacement flanker Leonard made a big impact in getting England possession from a ruck and with Burford and then Scarratt, showing an impressive turn of speed, fellow replacement Turner was in support and took the ball on to score, handing England the 22-5 victory.
England next face Scotland on March 13 at Meggatland Stadium, kick off 1.30pm.
15 Claire Allan (Richmond), 14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 13 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), 12 Alice Richardson (Richmond), 11 Michaela Staniford (Wasps), 10 Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 9 La Toya Mason (Wasps), 1 Rochelle Clark (Team Northumbria), 2 Amy Garnett (Saracens), 3 Sophie Hemming (Bristol), 4 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 5 Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps), 6 Heather Fisher (Worcester), 7 Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens), 8 Catherine Spencer (C) (Bristol).
Replacements: 16 Samantha Reeve (Worcester), 17 Claire Purdy (Wasps), 18 Rebecca Essex (Richmond), 19 Jane Leonard (Lichfield / Army), 20 Amy Turner (Richmond), 21 Rachael Burford (Richmond), 22 Fran Matthews (Richmond).
Tries: Alphonsi, Scarratt, Allan, Turner
Substitutions: Burford for Richardson, Turner for Mason (both 45 mins), Leonard for Fisher (53), Reeve for Garnet, McGilchrist for Essex, Purdy for Clark, Matthews for Merchant (all 69).
15 Niamh Briggs (Clonmel/Munster), 14 Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), 13 Joanne O'Sullivan (Richmond/Exile), 12 Shannon Houston (Blackrock/Leinster), 11 Amy Davis (Blackrock/Leinster), 10 Helen Brosnan (Highfield/Munster), 9 Tania Rosser (Blackrock/Leinster), 1 Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster), 2 Chris Fanning (Highfield/Munster), 3 Lauren Day (Cooke/Ulster), 4 Kate O'Loughlin (Clonmel/Munster), 5 Marie Louise Reilly (Navan/Leinster), 6 Orla Brennan (Blackrock/Leinster), 7 Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), 8 Joy Neville (UL Bohemians/Munster).
Replacements: 16 Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians/Munster), 17 Emer McManamly (Blackrock/Leinster), 18 Louise Austin (UL Bohemians/Munster), 19 Carol Staunton (Galwegians/ Connacht), 20 Louise Beamish (UL Bohemians/Munster), 21 Grace Davitt (Blackrock/Leinster), 22 Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht).
Referee: Stefano Marrama (FIR)
Assistant Referees: Ken Morgan & Paul Stanley
England’s RBS 6 Nations Fixtures & Results
England v Wales, Feb 6: 31-0
Italy v England, Feb 13: 41-0
England v Ireland, Feb 28: 22-5
Scotland v England, March 13, Meggatland, KO 1.30pm
France v England, March 19, Rennes Stade Vellodrome, KO 8pm