Irish women make history in Ashbourne


Ireland 25 England 0:Alison Miller grabbed a first half hat-trick of tries as Ireland created history at Ashbourne RFC with their first ever win over England, an emphatic 25-0 victory over the reigning Grand Slam champions.

Ireland put 17 previous defeats to England behind them with an accomplished display at their County Meath home venue, with fullback Niamh Briggs adding a second half try to Alison Miller's memorable hat-trick.

The Portlaoise flyer showed supreme finishing skills as they cut the English rearguard to shreds, following up some excellent approach work from the likes of Lynne Cantwell, Jenny Murphy and Nora Stapleton.

Briggs added one conversion to an earlier penalty to give Philip Doyle's side a well-merited 20-0 advantage at the break.

England, 76-0 winners over Scotland last weekend, had the wind behind them in the second period but an immediate sin-binning for their experienced loosehead prop Rochelle Clark kept them on the back foot.

Ireland's ability to take their scoring chances was evident once more as Joy Neville and Larissa Muldoon combined off a scrum to put Briggs storming over in the right corner.

The Six Nations title holders were thwarted time and again by Ireland's enveloping defence, Marie Louise Reilly, inspirational captain Fiona Coghlan and first-time starter Siobhan Fleming standing out in this regard.

Roared on by a passionate home crowd, the girls in green confidently protected their lead with an eager bench emptied on a famous day for Irish women's rugby.

The result leaves Ireland just 80 minutes away from their first ever Triple Crown, and puts them in pole position to challenge for the Championship in the coming weeks and confirm their stop at the 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup.

It was a hugely significant victory for Doyle's charges as England are the standard bearers of women's rugby in the northern Hemisphere - this was only a second defeat for them in their last 40 Six Nations matches.

The 25-point loss also ends England's 13-match winning streak which they embarked on after drawing 8-8 with World Cup champions New Zealand in December 2011.

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