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Ireland women push England to their limits in intense Grand Slam decider

A sickening injury to Claire Molloy helped England pull away in tonight’s Slam decider.

Ireland Women: 7

England Women: 34

Sean Farrell reports from Donnybrook

IRELAND WILL BE in a tough pool when the World Cup comes to these shores in August, but even in defeat tonight they once again showed they will not be overawed by anyone.

The reigning world champions ultimately burnt off the challenge from Tom Tierney’s side with tries from Amy Wilson Hardy, Laura Keates, Sam Cokayne, Emily Scarratt and Lydia Thompson to seal the Grand Slam with a bonus point win, but Ireland put up one hell of a fight along the way.

Jenny Murphy and Emily Scott Source: James Crombie/INPHO

England showed all their class in the opening stages, the veteran Rochelle Clark and powerful lock Harriet Millar-Mills laying a platform for Scarratt to pull strings in attack.

The game’s opening score came from the centre’s pass after the visitors’ attack stretched Ireland left before whipping the ball all the way to the right corner where the athletic  Wilson Hardy was on hand to finish.

Amy Wilson Hardy scores a try Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

The signs were ominous for Ireland. Yet while individual errors were present in a tough, swirling Donnybrook wind, the set-piece and breakdown helped to tighten Ireland’s grip enough for them to pull their way back into contention.

The team and the crowd ramped up the intensity in unison as the match wore on, thriving on moments. A crunching Jenny Murphy hit, a brace of Marie Louise Reilly steals and Claire Molloy’s breakdown exploits built a platform for an onslaught at the end of the first-half that needed a dogged English resistance to maintain their 5 – 0 advantage at the interval.

A banner congratulating Ireland's Marie-Louise Reilly on winning her 50th Irish cap Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

An early break from Murphy threatened more of the same suffocating pressure from Ireland. However, as England mounted their exit, a powerful carry from Keates left Molloy lying prone and motionless on the deck.

The visitors attacked the 14 women and made yards after the tackle through a series of phases. Once in the Ireland 22, they weren’t willing to leave without the score and Keates rumbled over to edge England out of striking distance.

The 6,105 in Donnybrook weren’t silenced, but Ireland’s hope faded minutes later as Mairead Coyne was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on after a scintillating Scarratt break.

The room for error was all eaten up, and England made each one fatal, running in tries from Cokayne, Scarratt and Thompson.

Leah Lyons forced her way over for a try at the other end to save Ireland from being nilled, just rewards for a side who pushed England almost every step of the way to this Grand Slam success.

Through the horrible swirling St Patrick’s Day rain, the summer looks bright for this Ireland team.

Scorers

Ireland

Tries: L Lyons

Conversions: H Tyrell (1/1)

England

Tries: A Wilson Hardy, L Keates, A Cokayne E Scarratt L Thompson

Conversions: E Scarratt (0/2)

Penalties: E Scarratt (1/2)

Ireland Women

15. Kim Flood — Mairead Coyne (52 mins)
14. Hannah Tyrrell
13. Jenny Murphy
12. Sene Naoupu
11. Alison Miller
10. Nora Stapleton – Nikki Caughey (52 mins)
9. Larissa Muldoon — Mary Healy (44 mins)

1. Lindsay Peat – Ilse Van Staden (62 mins)
2. Leah Lyons — Ciara O’Connor (69 mins)
3. Ailis Egan– Ruth O’Reilly (62 mins)
4. Sophie Spence
5. Marie-Louise Reilly
6. Ciara Griffin – Nichola Fryday (69 mins)
7. Claire Molloy – Ciara Cooney (50 mins)
8. Paula Fitzpatrick

England Women

15. Danielle Waterman
14. Amy Wilson Hardy
13. Emily Scarratt
12. Amber Reed
11. Kay Wilson
10. Emily Scott – Rachael Burford (40 mins)
9. La Toya Mason

1. Rochelle Clark – Vickii Cornborough (40 mins)
2. Amy Cokayne
3. Justine Lucas – Laura Keates (40 mins)
4. Tamara Taylor
5. Harriet Millar-Mills
6. Alex Matthews – Poppy Cleall (51 mins)
7. Marlie Packer
8. Sarah Hunter (c)

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‘We’ve focused on how to beat England, not on the reasons why we’ll beat them’

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