Griffin: England made us pay for lack of discipline
Women’s Six Nations
Energia Park Donnybrook
The Ireland Women’s Six Nations campaign began with a heavy defeat to a ruthless England side at Donnybrook last night.
In front of a crowd of 4,637 (a record for a standalone fixture at this level in Ireland), Adam Griggs’ side leaked eight tries to their newly-professional opponents.
Although she accepts the gulf that currently exists between the two nations, Ireland captain Ciara Griffin believes a lack of discipline also contributed to their 44-point reversal.
“That’s the reality of the professional, the amateur, but you can’t use that as an excuse either. We need to put up those performances too. They are a professional side,” the Kerry native acknowledged. “They have that more time together, but we’ve time together as well. We’ve got to play to our strengths, not beat ourselves. Unfortunately, our discipline let us down then at times.”
Having weathered an early storm by Ireland – Michelle Claffey’s lung-bursting run forcing them on the back foot – the visitors broke the deadlock through Jess Breach’s fifth-minute try.
While the hosts maintained a threat in possession, the hotly-tipped England gradually asserted their authority. Fly-half Katy Daley-Mclean slotted a routine penalty between the posts, before Sarah McKenna got on the end of her grubber kick (ahead of a retreating Ailsa Hughes) to claim a second try on 29 minutes.
Already 13-0 in front when the half-time whistle sounded, the Red Rose wrapped up a bonus point within six minutes of the resumption.
Tighthead prop Sarah Bern crossed inside the opening 60 seconds of the half and Lark Davies grounded at the back of a powerful line-out maul. After bolstering her personal tally with a brace of conversions, Daley-Mclean subsequently added a seven-point salvo to open up a 34-point advantage.
Having worked tirelessly to curb the influence of number eight Sarah Hunter, the Irish pack turned the tables on their English counterparts 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 victory.
In addition to Alison Miller making her long-awaited competitive return, Kathryn Dane, Linda Djougang and Anne Marie O’Hora were handed international debuts off the bench. It proved to be a steep learning curve for the squad’s newcomers, but Griffin believes they will benefit from it in the long run, beginning with next Friday’s away encounter against Scotland.
“It’s blooding new players, getting that experience. There’s no better experience than playing against England. They’ll take that with them now and they’ll be looking forward to next Friday as well.
Scorers for Ireland: Penalty try and con.
Scorers for 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), 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), S Brown for Bern, P Burnfield for P Cleall (both 48), B Cleall for Botterman (54), 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).