PA Sport Staff
England maintained their Grand Slam collision course with France through a 48-0 victory over Ireland in Cork but a scrappy performance took the shine off the afternoon.
Simon Middleton’s side had banked the bonus point in a first half that produced tries for Sarah Beckett, Tatyana Heard, Ellie Kildunne, Marlie Packer and Morwena Talling, but they lost their way after the interval.
Ireland were emphatically beaten by Wales, France and Italy in the previous rounds but they made life difficult for England until falling away in the final 10 minutes at Musgrave Park.
The hosts’ set-piece was overwhelmed, yet they became the first team in the 2023 TikTok Six Nations to prevent the Red Roses from breaching the 50-point mark.
It took until the 71st minute to break the second-half stalemate when Amber Reed burrowed over from close range as pre-match fears of a 100-point mauling failed to materialise.
Number eight Alex Matthews added two late tries as a build-up of pressure in the final 10 minutes took its toll on the home defence.
80+' | ENGLAND’S EIGHTH
Alex Matthews does it again for the final try of the match. The conversion is good.
IRE 0-48 ENG | #RedRoses | #TikTokW6N pic.twitter.com/tAq0Mv808U
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) April 22, 2023
For all the shortcomings evident in the penultimate round, England still made it four maximum five-point hauls as they secured a 23rd successive win the tournament.
Only France – who play Wales in Grenoble on Sunday – can stop the World Cup runners-up from clinching a fifth consecutive Six Nations title.
The victory came at a cost, however, with captain Packer and prop Hannah Botterman limping off through injury in the first half.