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Dow and Kildunne hat-tricks fire 14-try England to Six Nations rout of Ireland
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Dow and Kildunne hat-tricks fire 14-try England to Six Nations rout of Ireland

There will come a day when England’s dominance in the Women’s Six Nations ends. Their run of consecutive wins in the tournament, standing at 28, will be broken. But Ireland could not stop England on a windy day.

The Red Roses’ stranglehold has long been talked about and it was evident as to why with a 14-try performance when they gained the bonus point before 20 minutes.

England have been professional longer than any other team and although the other countries are slowly closing the gap, it will take time for that to translate on the scoreboard.

“I am sure people will chat about the competitiveness but at the end of the day we drive ourselves,” the England head coach, John Mitchell, said. “That is all we can focus on. I don’t think we are in a position to judge the competition or the competitiveness. All we can really focus on is the way we prepare and our standards have gone up a little bit.”

It is not only the results England are dominant in. Their attendance numbers are up there too, and here there was another impressive crowd of 48,778. Young fans had England flags and roses painted on their faces, overheard discussions on trains were focused on Marlie Packer’s return to the starting lineup and the streets were packed. This is becoming a yearly occurrence for the Red Roses and their momentum is showing no signs of slowing down.

England were dealt a blow before kick-off with Rosie Galligan ruled out with a thumb injury sustained in the warm-up. Morwenna Talling was promoted from the bench and Lizzie Hanlon came in as a replacement for her debut. It did not seem to affect the team with this performance one of their best in recent memory.

They opened the scoring through Abby Dow after a slick offload by Sadia Kabeya and it was not long until they were revving again. Natasha Hunt carved open the defence, offloading and then finishing the move for a second try in three minutes. The floodgates had opened and England were soon out of sight. Megan Jones and Zoe Aldcroft were over before Ireland had their first points on the board. Dannah O’Brien slotted a penalty, the first points Ireland have scored against England since 2019.

Abby Dow evades Ireland’s Katie Corrigan to score a try.View image in fullscreen

Ellie Kildunne scored next and Dow added her second, sending England into the break 38-3 up. Sophie Ellis-Bextor took to the stage for the half-time show and England did not kill the groove in the second half with Jess Breach’s brilliant solo effort.

A TMO check awarded Kabeya’s try, bringing England to 50 points, but Ireland started to stem the bleeding. The referee, Aurélie Groizeleau, spotted Lucy Packer illegally collapsing a maul as Ireland looked to drive over, and the replacement scrum-half was shown a yellow card, with a penalty try awarded to Ireland. Discipline has been an issue for England and it seems to be one area that has not improved throughout the tournament.

They were a player down but were the next to score through Jones. Dow and Kildunne became hat-trick heroines, Breach added another and Maddie Feaunati scored her first England try to wrap up the game.

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The Ireland head coach, Scott Bemand, formerly England’s attack coach, said: “At times we probably looked a little bit shellshocked. That’s fine, you see teams that went on to become good teams needing to learn to play occasions, whether that be semi-finals, finals or big games.

“Today was a big game for a youthful group. Would we have predicted a margin like that? Probably not. Unfortunately, that is how it went and there are some bits we can control better. The age profile of this group will take a massive amount of learnings from that and it is about still being confident to apply it next week against Scotland.”

Ireland will still be bidding to finish third and secure qualification for the 2025 Rugby World Cup. England’s rampant win has kept their hopes of a grand slam going. If they beat France next Saturday, they will claim their sixth successive title. But France will have their own title aspirations and they were the last to beat England in the tournament, in 2018. The day England’s domination ends could come sooner than some think.

Source: theguardian.com