Ireland Women’s coach Kevin West and his players were pleased with elements of their performance against England, but a poor start to Sunday’s super-charged clash ultimately let them down as they lost out to the defending RBS Women’s 6 Nations champions.
Chasing their first ever win over England, the girls in green did have their moments in Sunday’s game at Esher RFC, but a clinical England side proved too strong in the end, outscoring the visitors by four tries to one.
Early tries from Margaret Alphonsi and Emily Scarratt set the home side on the way to their third straight win in this year’s Championship, with out-half Katy Mclean adding a single conversion.
Ireland rallied though and brought it back to 12-5 for half-time, courtesy of a well-worked try from lock Kate O’Loughlin.
Giving his thoughts on Ireland’s opening, head coach Kevin West said: “We’ll be incredibly disappointed with the start of the game. We had an idea of how we wanted to play and in the first five or six minutes, we gifted them 12 points.
“If you gift England 12 points, it’s an uphill battle. But then I was really proud of the girls as after that, we got into the type of game that we wanted to play in this particular match and I think we just about owned the next 30 minutes.
“Where England are really good is that they capitalise on mistakes. We tired a little bit and made two or three critical errors and we’ll be very annoyed with the tries we gave away in the second half. We should have been closer.”
Ireland had issues in the scrum but they were a much tighter unit in the second half, with full-back Niamh Briggs kicking well and winger Amy Davis and replacement Grace Davitt showed well with ball in hand.
After two successive away defeats by France and England, the Irish squad will now target two home wins to close out the Championship on an encouraging note ahead of the Women’s Rugby World Cup in England, which begins in August.
West, who is demanding wholesale improvements, added: “I’m really happy with the girls but it’s a Test match and our aim is to win Test matches so we’re pretty disappointed with that.
“We’ll be focusing on the scrum for the rest of the Six Nations, but unfortunately we only get together the day before we play.
“It’s an area that’s already been highlighted to us and during the summer we’ve got intensive work to do on it, which we will do, especially as we have new girls coming in.
“(Lauren Day) was a number 6 so she’s only just developing as a prop. We’re aware of it and we’re working with the girls.
“We want to be known for more than the kicking and mauling team and we are capable of more. We tailored our tactics a little bit for England and we’re developing the maul but we’re also developing quite an intensive running game.
“But again our problem is time. We take the Six Nations very seriously but we are building towards the World Cup and
that is what’s in front of us.
“The conditions today did hamper our aim to play a running game but they might have helped us too! The England back-three are pretty lethal so it’s a bit of give and take.”
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