The Irish Women’s team battled bravely at Thomond Park on Sunday but ultimately had no answer to the forward power of defending Six Nations champions England – the visitors ran out comfortable 32-0 winners.
2007 WOMEN’S SIX NATIONS: Sunday, February 25
IRELAND 0 ENGLAND 32, Thomond Park
Scorers: Ireland: –
England: Tries: Susan Day, Georgia Stevens, Amy Turner, Maggie Alphonsi, Danielle Waterman; Cons: Katy McLean 2; Pen: McLean
John O’Sullivan’s charges were bidding to make it five wins out of five for Ireland’s representative sides this weekend.
But England swept to a 15-0 half-time lead with winger Susan Day (11 minutes) and flanker Georgia Stevens (37) both touching down.
The Irish had began brightly with centre Lynne Cantwell, who is playing her club rugby with Richmond in England this season, showing well, but England seized on the opportunity to put Day into space, when an Irish counter attack broke down, and the Wasps flyer sidestepped her way through for a mesmeric 30-metre score.
Out-half Katy McLean missed the conversion attempt but added a penalty before Stevens struck off a close-in ruck to see England end the first half on the up.
Considering all of Ireland’s hard work, the 15-0 score line was flattering for Geoff Richards’ visitors as Germaine Healy, Orla Brennan and Marie Barrett put in some towering displays up front for the Irish.
But the result was effectively put beyond doubt when Wasps scrum half Amy Turner dived over for a try on the left flank, four minutes into the second half, before flanker Maggie Alphonsi and winger Danielle Waterman ran in further tries for last year’s beaten World Cup finalists.
Incredibly after three matches in this season’s Six Nations, England are yet to concede a point – they beat Scotland 60-0 and Italy 23-0 in their other games earlier this month.
For the Irish, who were fourth in the tournament’s table before this weekend, there were still some positives to take into their final games against the Scots and Italians.
Coach O’Sullivan said: “We’re very disappointed with the result, but in fairness to Sarahjane (Belton) and her team, they competed all the way. We were beaten by the better team. England are one of the top sides in the world and they have consistently proven that.
“We have two huge games against Scotland and Italy ahead of us and I think we could win both. We will take a good few positives from this game. We are learning and we are moving on.”
Irish full-back and captain Belton, whose line-kicking helped her side out of a number of sticky situations, said: “They came at us with great pace and strength. But we had worked on some things in advance and we took a few positives from the game.
“Fair play to England, they sent over their full-strength side and they were just too good for us. But with two games remaining in the championship, we still have a lot to play for.”
IRELAND: Sarahjane Belton (UL Bohemians) (capt); Jeannette Feighery (UL Bohemians), Lynne Cantwell (Richmond), Shannon Houston (Blackrock), Grace Davitt (Blackrock); Jo O’Sullivan (Richmond), Louise Beamish (UL Bohemians); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians), Jess Limbert (Cooke), Marie Barrett (Highfield), Caroline Mahon (UL Bohemians), Germaine Healy (Rathdrum), Eimear O’Sullivan (Clonakilty), Sinead Ryan (Navan), Orla Brennan (Blackrock).
Replacements used: Laura Guest (Clonakilty) for Barrett (75 mins). Not used: Yvonne Nolan (Blackrock), Debbie Clarke (Blackrock), Rachel Boyd (Cooke), Nicole Fitzgerald (UL Bohemians), Mairead Kelly (UL Bohemians), Amanda Greensmith (Shannon).
ENGLAND: Charlotte Barras (Saracens); Susan Day (Wasps) (capt), Claire Allan (Saracens), Rachal Burford (Saracens), Daniella Waterman (Clifton); Katy McLean (Thirsk), Amy Turner (Wasps); Vanessa Gray (Wasps), Amy Garnett (Saracens), Kate Storie (Blaydon), Tamara Taylor (Thirsk), Jo McGilchrist (Wasps), Georgia Stevens (Clifton), Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens), Catherina Spencer (Worcester).
Replacements used: Sophie Hemming (Clifton) for Gray (half-time), Sarah Beale (Leos) for Spencer (60 mins), Michaela Staniford (Wasps) for Allan, Sarah Hunter (Lichfield) for Alphonsi, Emma Layland (Richmond) for Garnett (all 68), Karen Andrew (Saracens) for McLean, Amber Penrith (Cardiff Quins) for Waterman (both 76).
IrishRugby.ie player of the match: Lynne Cantwell (Ireland)
Referee: Huw David (Wales)