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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Carlow Nationalist — England overwhelm Ireland to keep Six Nations title hopes firmly on track

By Duncan Bech, England Rugby Correspondent

England thrilled a bumper crowd at Twickenham by overwhelming Ireland 88-10 to set up a likely Grand Slam decider against France next weekend.

The Red Roses amassed 14 tries in front of 48,778 fans with the unstoppable Abby Dow and Ellie Kildunne completing hat-tricks, while Megan Jones and Jess Breach each crossed twice.

For all Dow’s finishing instincts, it was full-back Kildunne who shone brightest through a captivating display in attack, and her athleticism was a constant threat to Ireland.

It was an ugly final scoreline for the tournament but Ireland at least managed to touch down by forcing a penalty try.

Scrum-half Natasha Hunt promised England would “put on a show” and by securing the try-scoring bonus point inside the opening quarter, they duly delivered despite losing lock Rosie Galligan to a thumb injury during the warm-up.

Dow left a trail of green shirts on the ground to begin the onslaught and Hunt was the next to score after making a dynamic solo break.

The tone had been set and what followed was a procession with Kildunne at the vanguard, the Harlequin’s electric running sweeping her into open space time and again.

England v Ireland – Guinness Women’s Six Nations – Twickenham Stadium
Abby Dow scored England’s opening try at Twickenham. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA.

A cheeky dummy kick launched one gliding charge out of defence and Ireland were having to scramble furiously to contain a player who has the ambition of becoming the best in the world.

When she crossed on the half-hour mark it was a simple finish to a move started by England’s line-out maul as the home pack asserted itself up front.

Hooker Lark Atkin-Davies was helped off with an injury, but the rout continued when sharp handling and a vast gap in the Ireland midfield invited Dow over for her second.

The Irish ran out of defenders as Breach switched on the afterburners to race over, and just eight minutes into the second half England surpassed 50 points for the first time in this Six Nations when Sadia Kabeya powered over.

England v Ireland – Guinness Women’s Six Nations – Twickenham Stadium
Ellie Kildunne was one of two England players to score a hat-trick. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA.

Ireland were outclassed but showed plenty of fight against the game’s dominant force and their determination paid off when they were awarded a penalty try for seeing a driving maul thwarted illegally.

Lucy Packer was sent to the sin-bin as a result, but England still scored next when Jones weaved a path through the opposition midfield.

Emily Scarratt received a loud cheer when she replaced Tatyana Heard and Dow ran in her third, ushering in a traumatic final quarter for Ireland who were swamped by better conditioned opponents.



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