In front of a record audience in the home game of 15,836, England extended its record number without defeat to 22 with a strong victory against Ireland. Even before the excavation, the final result was guaranteed. The only challenge facing England was to entertain their fans with a stunning performance. In fact, they were only 50% successful.
The first half was challenging. One hopes that someone who has not yet switched to a women’s game has not turned off the television during the break. England collected nine penalties in a discontinuous 40 minutes and would be penalized if they played against a better equipped team.
Ireland deserves credit for making it scrap, but it arrived here with 282 test caps on the team on the day of the match, six less than on the England bench, and they never became more than just the key to work.
England spent the first half in the camp in Ireland 22, but over time did little. Two failed attempts from the line – scored by Lark Davies and Sarah Bern in two and 17 minutes – were all they had to show for their dominance.
One spark came from Helena Rowland, who was largely a spectator on the outskirts. Under pressure, she collected a kick, overcame several tools with quick steps and broke through the other two at 20 meters. Emily Scarratt, playing her 100th test, was too eager to clean up and gave a penalty, encapsulating England’s poor discipline in the opening third. England was out early in the second half, signaling a sharp word. Their head coach, Simon Middleton, revealed that Captain Sarah Hunter had spoken. “Sarah was a big deal, it was up to us,” Middleton said. “It was clear to her that we were the second best in the crash.”
Relaxed speech worked. Two minutes after the restart, Marlie Packer completed a neat move in the corner and Scarratt successfully scored for the first time to extend her record in England to 655.
Ireland’s faint hope was dashed when Dorothy Wall was sent to the dumpster to hit Jess Breach. Thanks to the player’s advantage, Davies scored the second goal by bouncing from close range.
Emily Scarratt is celebrating another stunning victory and her 100th Cup. Photo: Marcelo Poletto / SPP / Shutterstock
The sluice gates opened in the 50th minute when Lydia Thompson finished a great first attempt in the first phase of the lineup, which included an excellent skip-pass from Rowland. Thompson still had work to do, but it looked easy, and in her 52nd game, she set out on the 42nd attempt.
Poppy Cleal was next on the list of shooters and won her collision five meters outside. Rowland was again heavily involved in the build-up before the rattling maul caught up. The English bench tilted the match further in its favor. The new front line kept winning the penalties that Zoe Harrison kept coming. Another maul in a row pulled a replacement, Hannah Botterman.
Cleal had another courtesy dominant scrum under the Irish poles when she simply had to pick up the ball and fall over the line. Scarratt’s conversion took half a century.
There has been a parade for the last 15 minutes. Ellie Kildunne scored two stunning points in range in both corners, and Thompson took second place and completed 11 attempts. Scarratt was replaced after a head-on collision with Sen Naoupu, which led to the expulsion of the center of Ireland, although the centurion of England returned before the end.
The spectacular march of England continues after a brutal exhibition in the second half. But they will be more concerned with what happened in the first 40 minutes as they prepare for Saturday’s grand slam in France.