10 Dec, 10:30
The IRFU and Munster are pleased to announce that Conor Murray has signed a new two year contract with the IRFU which will see him remain at Munster until at least June 2016.
ENGLAND WOMEN 22 IRELAND WOMEN 5, Pillar Data Arena, Esher RFC
Scorers: England Women: Tries: Margaret Alphonsi, Emily Scarratt, Claire Allan, Amy Turner; Con: Katy Mclean
Ireland Women: Try: Kate O'Loughlin
Despite the 22-5 loss though, there were plenty of positives for Ireland coach Kevin West to take from the game. Not least that his team became the first this year to score any points at all against this excellent England side.
A poor start meant Ireland were chasing the match from the off as England scored after just five minutes when Katy Mclean put the ball into the corner.
From the resulting lineout, the hosts drove their maul hard towards the line and flanker Margaret Alphonsi crashed over for the first score to give the reigning Six Nations champions a very promising start.
England were in again a few minutes later as Ireland turned the ball over in a bad position in their 22 and England flanker Heather Fisher moved the ball wide quickly to set up centre Emily Scarratt who took England's lead out to 12 with Mclean adding the conversion.
Ireland though were not deterred by the flurry of early scores as they came to life with some fine passages of play.
Amy Davis ran well down her wing, giving the girls in green better territory and from a lineout Ireland's driving maul made some excellent yards.
Sensing that England were struggling to defend the maul, Ireland opted to use it again and again as they won numerous penalties in the 22 and their patience paid off when lock Kate O'Loughlin muscled her way over for an unconverted try, cutting the gap to seven points.
It was the first try England had conceded in the 2010 Championship so far and it gave the visitors much more confidence.
Mclean missed a penalty attempt shortly after and a better passage of play from Ireland followed with some nice touches from forwards Joy Neville and Marie Louise Reilly giving the visitors much-needed momentum.
England's defence was pretty sound overall, however, and as the two sides traded possession, neither could find a way through well- organised rearguards.
Ireland struggled in the scrum in the first half with England putting them under huge pressure there - forcing them to cough up a few balls - but despite their struggles there, overall they were managing the English threat well with the boot of full-back Niamh Briggs helping them into England's half.
Defensively, the Irish were also managing much better out wide than they were earlier in the half, with Alice Richardson and Scarratt being well-marshalled as the sides turned around at half-time with the score 12-5.
Ireland were much more focused after the restart and their better organised defence meant England were made to work much harder in attack than they are used to.
They did though manage to cross the line midway through the half as they used their maul effectively and then moved it wide where Clare Allan hit the line at pace and evaded a tackle or two before touching down. Mclean missed the kick.
England's next score game against the run of play, as Ireland had been on the attack and making ground but a turnover saw the ball moved quickly through the hands and some excellent offloading between Alphonsi and Merchant helped Scarratt set up the replacement Amy Turner whose try gave her side a healthy 22-5 lead.
Although beaten, Ireland ended the game on the attack with replacement Grace Davitt making an impact in the middle and with their scrum shoring up after a raft of replacements.
Ireland will take positives from the game though, with their lineout especially proving effective. A poor opening ten minutes will frustrate them as they had England rattled for large passages of the game but there is much for them to take into their next outing at home to Wales on Friday, March 12 (Ashbourne RFC, kick-off 7.30pm).
ENGLAND WOMEN: Claire Allan (Richmond); Katherine Merchant (Worcester), Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), Alice Richardson (Richmond), Michaela Staniford (Wasps); Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), La Toya Mason (Wasps); Rochelle Clark (Team Northumbria), Amy Garnett (Saracens), Sophie Hemming (Bristol), Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps), Heather Fisher (Worcester), Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens), Catherine Spencer (Bristol) (capt).
Replacements used: Rachael Burford (Richmond) for Richardson, Amy Turner (Richmond) for Mason (both 45 mins), Jane Leonard (Litchfield/Army) for Fisher (53), Samantha Reeve (Worcester) for Garnett, Rebecca Essex (Richmond) for McGilchrist, Claire Purdy (Wasps) for Clark, Fran Matthews (Richmond) for Merchant (all 69).
IRELAND WOMEN: Niamh Briggs (Clonmel/Munster); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Joanne O'Sullivan (Richmond/Exile), Shannon Houston (Blackrock/Leinster), Amy Davis (Blackrock/Leinster); Helen Brosnan (Highfield/Munster), Tania Rosser (Blackrock/Leinster); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster) (capt), Chris Fanning (Highfield/Munster), Lauren Day (Cooke/Ulster), Kate O'Loughlin (Clonmel/Munster), Marie Louise Reilly (Navan/Leinster), Orla Brennan (Blackrock/Leinster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Joy Neville (UL Bohemians/Munster).
Replacements used: Grace Davitt (Blackrock/Leinster) for Houston (62 mins), Emer McManamly (Blackrock/Leinster) for Day, Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians/Munster) for Fanning (both 65), Louise Austin (UL Bohemians/Munster) for Brennan, Carol Staunton (Galwegians/Connacht) for Coghlan, Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht0 for Davis (all 73), Louise Beamish (UL Bohemians/Munster) for Rosser (75).
Referee: Stefano Marrama (Italy)