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Dublin: 4°C Friday 5 March 2021

Peat and Naoupu injured as Ireland Women held to nil by five-try England

Adam Griggs’ side were outclassed and suffered their first defeat of the year.

Sene Naoupu and Aoife Doyle with Jess Breach and Emily Scarratt of England.
Sene Naoupu and Aoife Doyle with Jess Breach and Emily Scarratt of England.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

England Women: 27

Ireland Women:  0

IRELAND’S RETURN TO winning form in 2020 was brought to a not unexpected end in Doncaster as England took another step towards back-to-back Grand Slams with a second straight clean sheet.

Whatever metric you used to judge these sides before kick-off – World Cup performance, last year’s Championship, ranking or the difference between an amateur and professional outfit – the Red Roses ensured it was borne out as they used a dominant scrum to springboard to a first-half bonus point.

While the visitors – who defeated Scotland and Wales on home turf earlier this month – racked up positive possession and territory numbers in the first half, England picked off four first-half tries from Sarah Hunter, Abby Dow, Jess Breach and Vicky Fleetwood.

While the outcome was beyond doubt after 40 minutes, Ireland at least mustered enough combative intent in the second half to limit the home side to just a single score. But concerted pressure and opportunities to put their own mark on the board sadly remained absent and the visitors ended the match with zero line breaks to their name.

Sene Naoupu was stretched off injured five minutes from full-time. And what was already a supremely difficult assignment was made all the tougher by the loss of prop Lindsay Peat early on. A collision deep in England’s half left the 39-year-old grounded and she was stretchered off in the 13th minute.

By that stage England had already asserted their dominance on the scoreboard. Lark Davies broke through Claire Keohane’s tackle on the 22. And although Adam Griggs’ managed to scramble and set to thwart Jess Breach and the pick and drives that followed, the white scrum steam-rolled over the line and Sarah Hunter dotted down.

Ireland responded well and forced a period of territorial dominance as a fortunate bounce from a Keohane touch-finder pegged England back and a combination of sure-footed play from Lauren Delany, Eimear Considine and Aoife Doyle and a tricky swirling wind made England work for their exit.

poppy-cleall-offloads-the-ball-despite-judy-bobbett Poppy Cleall offloads with Judy Bobbett closing in. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Once they did make their way back to Irish territory after Peat’s injury, though, they were clinical again. Amber Reed slipped a fine reverse pass to set Emily Scarratt haring into the Ireland 22. And the World Cup finalists recycled well to go wide where Sarah McKenna set up Abby Dow for a finish in the corner.

The aptly-named Breach punctured Ireland’s defence a third time in the 26th minute and shortly after the half-hour mark, Ireland were pegged back again after Considine floundered under a high ball. Delany reacted sharply to win the race against Dow as the pill bounced to within an inch of Ireland’s try-line.

Keohane managed to clear her lines and England knocked on in the attack that directly followed, but England would not leave the attacking third before mauling in a bonus point-try for Vicky Fleetwood to ground.

leanne-riley-with-edel-mcmahon-katie-fitzhenry-and-ciara-griffin Leanne Riley with Edel McMahon, Katie Fitzhenry and Ciara Griffin of Ireland. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

22-0 at half-time, but there were defiant roars from the Irish pack early in the second half as they powered their way to a scrum penalty. With a hefty cushion, the hosts lacked the impetus to force the tempo and did not click in attack until just before the hour when McKenna crossed in the corner.

The power of the wind was made clear as Scarratt’s well-struck conversion appeared well on its way between the sticks until a sudden gust gave it a sharp change in direction.

There was no such deviation in the scoreline, though, as Ireland tackled their way to the finish. The toll of their efforts bringing a worrying injury for Naoupu.



Tries: S Hunter, A Dow, J Breach, V Fleetwood, S McKenna

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Conversions: E Scarratt (1/5)






 England: 15 Sarah McKenna (Zoe Harrison ’65), 14 Abby Dow, 13 Emily Scarratt, 12 Amber Reed, 11 Jess Breach, 10 Katy Daly-McLean (Emily Scott ’65), 9 Leanne Riley (Natasha Hunt ’55); 1 Vickii Cornborough (Detysha Harper ’65), 2 Lark Davies (Amy Cokayne ’55), 3 Sarah Bern (Shaunagh Brown ’55), 4 Poppy Cleall (Harriet Millar-Mills, 5 Zoe Aldcroft, 6 Sarah Beckett , 7 Vicky Fleetwood (Amelia Harper ’65), 8 Sarah Hunter

Ireland: 15 Eimear Considine, 14 Lauren Delany, 13 Sene Naoupu, 12 Katie Fitzhenry, 11 Aoife Doyle (Hannah Tyrell ’63), 10 Claire Keohane (Larissa Muldoon ’61), 9 Kathryn Dane (Nicole Cronin ’63); 1 Lindsay Peat (Laura Feely ’13), 2 Cliodhna Moloney (Victoria Dabanovick O’Mahony ’70), 3 Linda Djougang (Leah Lyons ’61), 4 Aoife McDermott (Ciara Cooney ’47), 5 Judy Bobbett, 6 Ciara Griffin (c), 7 Edel McMahon (Dorothy Wall ’70), 8 Anna Caplice. 

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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