Ireland battle hard but draw a blank against England at Musgrave Park

Glam Slam favourites were far too strong for the hosts in this Tik Tok Women's Six Nations tie
Ireland battle hard but draw a blank against England at Musgrave Park

England's Amber Reed scores a try despite the challenge of Dannah O'Brien of Ireland at Musgrave Park. Picture: INPHO/Tom Maher

Ireland 0 England 39

IRELAND’S struggles in the Tik Tok Women's Six Nations continued on Saturday afternoon with a heavy loss to Grand Slam-chasing England at Musgrave Park.

Greg McWilliams and his players arrived looking to make a statement after last week’s loss to Italy and the found themselves trailing from the second minute through a try from Sarah Beckett. This massively contributed to England going into half-time with a 27-0 lead, with their tally a product of five different try scorers.

This came from an aggressive start by the visitors to Cork, and they got onto the Irish five-metre line with just two minutes on the clock. This period ended with Beckett jumping over and scoring the first try of the game after they quickly released to the left wing. The only let-off for Ireland with this was that Lagi Tuima missed the conversion.

Things slowed down after this, as both teams struggled to assert themselves through a flurry of penalties. Eventually, England’s quality came through with the pace they are able to work with. This created the second try of the game with Tatyana Heard running this over on the left.

Claudia MacDonald set up Ellie Kildunne to score England's third try from the right wing, and that made it 15-0 with just over 22 minutes played in the first half.

The next time they got the ball, England broke through and got held up on the line. The visitors to Musgrave Park did excellently to avoid a penalty for not releasing, and they were awarded with Marlie Packer scoring from right in front of the posts.

An Irish penalty on the half-hour mark allowed Dannah O’Brien to send the ball out for a line-out inside the English 22. Neve Jones’ ball was plucked out of the air and Ireland started pushing on. 

Just as everything seemed to be going their way, England got the ball back and tried for a 50:22.

Ireland's Sam Monaghan comes up against Sarah Beckett of England. Picture: INPHO/Ben Brady
Ireland's Sam Monaghan comes up against Sarah Beckett of England. Picture: INPHO/Ben Brady

Lauren Delany stopped that and at that moment, Ireland seemed to be finding a foothold in the game. That ended up as a false dawn as Morwenna Talling ran over England’s fifth try in the 38th minute and Tuima converted.

Ireland were a lot more composed in the second half and they were able to have sustained periods over the England 22-metre line. The quality of the opposition was too great when they got momentum and they never spent more than a few phases on the opposition’s five-metre line.

The majority of the second half was scoreless, and both coaches used this spell to empty their benches. Ireland rotated almost their entire team as they tried to get a score that could have opened things up.

But England were relentless in the final ten minutes. Amber Reed got the first try after the break and Helena Rowland converted this, and this gave England a 34-0 lead. Alex Matthews got the final two tries and both of these had the two points added.

That rounded off the win for England, who had a perfect afternoon at Musgrave Park. Ireland will now close off their 2023 Six Nations campaign next weekend with a game against Scotland.

IRELAND: L Delany; A Doyle, A Dalton, V Irwin, N Behan, D O’Brien, M Scuffil-McCabe, L Djougang, N Jones, C Haney, N Fryday, S Monaghan, B Hogan, G Moore, D Nic a Bháird.

Replacements: K Buggy for Djougang (29), A McGann for Irwin (34), McGann for Dalton (54), J Brown for Moore (55), C Nielson for Jones for (64), A Hughes for Scuffil-McCabe (64), H O'Connor for Hogan (66), M Deely for Behan (66), S McGrath for Haney (78).

ENGLAND: E Kildunne, A Dow, L Tuima, T Heard, C MacDonald, H Aitchison, N Hunt, H Botterman, C Powell, M Muir, Z Aldcroft, S Beckett, S Kabeya, M Packer, A Matthews.

Replacements: M Carson for Botterman (29), M Talling for Beckett (36), Delaney Burns for Aldcroft (54), S McKenna for Heard (54), E Kildunne for Tuima (55), L Davies for Powell (61), M Carson for Muir (61), L Packer for Hunt (64). 

Referee: Lauren Jenner (New Zealand)

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