Katy Daley-Mclean inspires England to big win over Ireland
Outhalf in top form as Red Roses score seven tries at Donnybrook
England’s Jess Breach is tackled by Ireland’s Megan Williams during the Women’s Six Nations match at Donnybrook. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Ireland 7 England 51
In front of a record home crowd of 4,637 at Donnybrook, Ireland began their Women’s Six Nations campaign with a heavy defeat to a ruthless England.
With outhalf Katy Daley-Mclean in sparkling form throughout, they convincingly overcame the challenge posed by Adam Griggs’s charges.
Rank outsiders heading into the contest, the initial signs from Ireland were encouraging. Nicole Fowley’s smart kicking game placed England under pressure in the early exchanges and a powerful Michelle Claffey carry almost produced a deadlock-breaking score.
However, after fullback Sarah McKenna picked her out in space on the right flank, Harlequins winger Jess Breach glided home for a fifth-minute try.
Despite Daley-Mclean’s wayward conversion, it was beginning to look decidedly ominous. While the hosts maintained a threat in possession – Claffey continued to impress alongside Sene Naoupu – Simon Middleton’s visitors gradually asserted their authority in south Dublin.
At the end of an extended spell inside the Irish ‘22’, Daley-Mclean slotted a routine penalty between the posts. One of two centurions in the team – number eight Sarah Hunter being the other – the Loughborough Lightning playmaker played an instrumental role in England’s second try on 29 minutes.
She executed a neat grubber kick towards the right corner, where Sarah McKenna beat the retreating Ailsa Hughes to dot down. Breach looked set to increase the England cushion off a subsequent move, but a superb covering tackle by towering secondrow Aoife McDermott ensured the interval gap remained at 13 points.
Already well in control, the Red Roses wrapped up a bonus point within six minutes of the resumption.
Tighthead prop Sarah Bern crossed inside the opening 60 seconds of the restart before Lark Davies grounded at the back of a powerful lineout maul. Daley-Mclean bolstered her personal tally with a brace of conversions and subsequently added a try to open up a 34-point advantage.
Having struggled to curb Hunter’s growing influence in the scrum, Ireland finally turned the tables on the England pack just past the hour mark. Following a series of drives towards the whitewash, South African referee Aimee Barrett-Theron awarded a penalty try to the home team.
Yet, determined to have the final word, England responded with three unanswered tries in the final quarter. Showcasing the strength in depth they have at their disposal, replacements Zoe Harrison, Emily Scott and Bryony Cleall all touched down to round off a resounding reversal for Ireland.
SCORERS – Ireland: Penalty try. England: K Daley-Mclean try, pen, 4 cons, J Breach, S McKenna, S Bern, L Davies, Z Harrison, E Scott, B Cleall try each.
IRELAND: L Delany; E Considine, S Naoupu, M Claffey, M Williams; N Fowley, A Hughes; L Feely, L Lyons, F Reidy; A McDermott, N Fryday; J Short, C Molloy, C Griffin.
Replacements: E Hooban for Reidy (50 mins); E Murphy for Fowley, A Caplice for Short (both 54); A Miller for Delany, C McLaughlin for Griffin (both 63); K Dane for Hughes, L Djougang for Feely, AM O’Hora for Lyons (all 72).
ENGLAND: S McKenna; J Breach, E Scarratt, T Heard, K Smith; K Daley-Mclean, L Riley; H Botterman, L Davies, S Bern; C O’Donnell, P Cleall; S Beckett, M Packer, S Hunter.
Replacements: A Cokayne for Packer (34 mins); S Brown for Bern, P Burnfield for P Cleall (both 48); Z Harrison for Scarratt (58); E Scott for Smith, N Hunt for Riley (both 63); R Galligan for Hunter (68).
Referee: A Barrett-Theron (RSA).