England Women complete their own Six Nations Grand Slam with 34-7 victory over Ireland

Gavin Mairs
The Telegraph
Emily Scarratt breaks away for England - 2017 Getty Images
Emily Scarratt breaks away for England - 2017 Getty Images

Over to you Eddie Jones. England Women followed the England Under-20s side by completing their own Six Nations Grand Slam in a winner-takes-all-encounter against their Irish counterparts.

Now it is left to Jones’s side to complete what would be a historic Grand Slam treble for English rugby when they face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

The England Women team will cheer on Dylan Hartley’s boys from the stands, with the inner glow of having already finished a perfect season.

This hard-fought victory for the reigning world champions, now a fully-professional squad, ensured that Simon Middleton’s side claimed their first Six Nations title since 2012. They will head into the defence of their World Cup title in Ireland this August in fine fettle.

<span>Rachael Burford displays the scars of battle</span> <span>Credit: REX FEATURES </span>
Rachael Burford displays the scars of battle Credit: REX FEATURES

England had gone into the game having scored 182 points in the previous four victories at a stunning average of over 45 points per game. Yet just as it was for the England Under-20s, Middleton’s side had to earn their triumph the hard way, holding firm in the face of wave after wave of Irish attacks in the third quarter to preserve their narrow lead from a first-half try by Amy Wilson Hardy.

A huge try-saving tackle by Emily Scarratt on her opposite number Jenny Murphy typified that champion spirit and having repelled Ireland’s best efforts, England were able to find another gear to ease clear, with further tries by Laura Keates and Amy Cokayne, Scarratt and Lydia Thompson.

England, fresh from scoring seven tries against Scotland had dominated the opening exchanges, with Scarratt making up for a missed penalty by firing a perfect pass to put Hardy over for a try.

<span>Sarah Hunter is hauled down</span> <span>Credit: GETTY IMAGES </span>
Sarah Hunter is hauled down Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Indeed, Ireland found themselves trapped deep inside their own territory for much of the first half yet their resistance was spirited, with Alison Miller twice lifting the pressure with darting breaks. The Irish scrum too held the edge, once spoiling a strong attacking platform for England with an against-the-head shunt.

Ireland’s confidence grew from their resilience and Sene Naoupu almost forced her way over for a try from an impressive line-out move and, from the resultant scrum, Paula Fitzpatrick was held up over the line only for England to steal the ball from the second scrum.

Ireland’s wave of attacks appeared relentless in the third quarter but they could not translate pressure into points, allowing England to close the game out in impressive fashion.

Scarratt landed a penalty after Mairead Coyne had been sent to the sin bin for deliberately knocking on the England centre’s potentially try-scoring pass.

England were able to exploit the numerical advantage with a try by Cokayne - her fifth of the Championship – Scarratt and Thompson. There was a late try too for Ireland by Leah Lyons, but this was England’s night.

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