- Sixth successive Six Nations title for England Women
- Five tries for England defeat Ireland and secures the Grand Slam
Ireland 0 England 31
England Women secured a record breaking sixth successive 6 Nations title and a Grand Slam, comprehensively defeating Ireland 31-0 at Ashbourne RFC.
Gary Street’s side, who came so close to winning the Rugby World Cup in September losing only 13-10 to New Zealand, bagged the title with another record breaking effort – conceding a mere eight points for an unprecedented total against.
Tries from skipper Katy McLean, No. 8 Sarah Hunter, props Rochelle Clark and Sophie Hemming and flanker Margaret Alphonsi handed England the silverware on a fine and dry evening.
England Head Coach, who has now guided England to four 6 Nations titles, said: "Obviously I am absolutely delighted with this result, but most importantly the effort from the players. After the world cup there could have been a hangover but it is an absolute credit to the girls the way they have come back and put the work in on and off the field.
"We have challenged the players this season, we wanted them to get even better and move on from last term and they have done exactly that.
"Once again tonight not only did we score some good tries but we defended excellently. We have set another championship record in terms of points conceded and I think that is a tremendous achievement."
McLean started the scoring on eight minutes
Photo: Getty Images
Skipper Katy McLean led by example in this showdown finale by handing England a 5-0 lead after just eight minutes. After several phases of sustained pressure in Ireland’s 22, and several attempts to cross the try line, the Darlington Mowden Park fly half found a space and broke off a tackle to run in and score from ten metres out. England captain, however, could not add the conversion.
Lichfield No.8 Sarah Hunter then handed England a 10-0 lead after 22 minutes with a typical push over try after England continued to dominate territory and possession. McLean, this time, added the conversion and despite Ireland losing Joy Neville to the sin-bin that was where the score stayed until after the break. Ireland also had their chance between the posts with a 33rd minute penalty but Niamh Briggs couldn’t convert.
Street rolled on the replacements after the break with lock Rowena Burnfield and England’s world cup captain Catherine Spencer getting their chance, but it was prop Clark who crossed the try line for the third time in two games.
Handing the defending champions a 17-0 cushion, Clark, just like Hunter before her, picked up and powered her way over the line to score England’s third try. With McLean adding the conversion England had established a very healthy 19-0 lead.
Impressive handling from England backs
Photo: Getty Images
Some impressive handling by Katherine Merchant to keep the ball in play then gave replacement Danielle Waterman the chance to make space. With Hemming in support Waterman popped the ball up to the prop who then barged her way over for her first England try.
McLean could not convert but it didn’t matter as England continued the rout with Alphonsi adding the fifth and decisive try. Spencer, however, did the hard yards for Alphonsi with a great pick up and drive from the back of the scrum.
The powerhouse flanker then took the ball on to score in extra time. With McLean adding the conversion England wrapped up the 31-0 victory, a sixth successive title and the Grand Slam to boot.
England Women v Ireland Women Teams
England: 15 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), 14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 13 Rachael Burford (Richmond), 12 Kimberley Oliver (Bristol), 11 Francesca Matthews (Richmond), 10 Katy McLean (c) (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 9 La Toya Mason (Wasps), 1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester), 2 Emma Croker (Richmond), 3 Sophie Hemming (Bristol), 4 Rebecca Essex (Richmond), 5 Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps), 6 Heather Fisher (Worcester), 7 Margaret Alphonsi (vc)(Saracens), 8 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield).
Replacements: 16 Amy Garnett (Saracens), 17 Claire Purdy (Wasps), 18 Rowena Burnfield (Richmond), 19 Catherine Spencer (Bristol), 20 Georgina Rozario (Lichfield), 21 Georgina Roberts (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks),22 Danielle Waterman (Worcester).
Tries: McLean, Hunter, Clark, Hemming, Alphonsi
Conversions: McLean (3)
Substitutions: Burnfield for McGilchrist (HT), Spencer for Hunter (45), Waterman for Burford (54), Garnett for Croker (54), Purdy for Hemming (54), Roberts for Merchant (61), Rozario for Mason (68).
Ireland: 15 Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemian - Munster),14 Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohemian - Munster), 13 Lynne Cantwell (Richmond - Exile), 12 Geraldine Rea (Highfield - Munster), 11 Mairead Kelly (UL Bohemian - Munster), 10 Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere - Leinster), 9 Larissa Muldoon (UWIC - Exile), 1 Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemian - Leinster), 2 Gillian Bourke (Bristol - Munster), 3 Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere - Leinster), 4 Heather O'Brien (Highfield - Munster), 5 Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere - Leinster), 6 Laura Guest (Highfield - Munster), 7 Claire Molloy (Bristol - Connacht), 8 Joy Neville (UL Bohemian - Munster).
Replacements: 16 Stacey Kennedy (City of Derry - Ulster), 17 Lauren Day (Waterloo - Ulster), 18 Dee O'Brien (Blackrock - Leinster), 19 Carol Staunton (Galwegians - Connacht), 20 Amy Davis (Blackrock - Leinster), 21 Gillian Nolan (St Marys - Leinster), 22 Jackie Shiels (Richmond - Leinster).
Referee: Sarah Corrigan (ARU)
Assistant Referees: Ken Henley Philips (IRFU) & John Montayne (IRFU)
England’s RBS 6 Nations Results
Wales v England: Feb 6, Cross Keys RFC – WON 19-0
England v Italy: Feb 12, Esher RFC – WON 68-5
England v France: Feb 27, Worcester RFC – WON 16-3
England v Scotland: March 13, Twickenham Stadium – WON 89-0
Ireland v England: March 18, Ashbourne RFC – WON 31-0