Ireland’s wonderful journey came to an abrupt end at the hands of, the “old enemy”, England at Stade Jean Bouin yesterday afternoon in the semi final of the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup.

The Green Machine came to a stuttering stop in the 7 – 40 defeat with Ireland’s only points coming from a Gill Bourke try and a Niamh Briggs conversion. The clinical English side responded with five tries, three penalties and three conversions in the one sided contest.

Ireland soaked up early pressure in the opening exchanges before disruption of the English line out gave them a chance to work their way upfield.

Good work by Sophie Spence drove Ireland up to the England line where the English conceded a penalty allowing Ireland to kick for the corner and ramp up their driving maul which eventually worked it’s way over the English line for the referee to award the score after consulting the TMO with the try awarded to Gill Bourke.

Niamh Briggs knocked over the difficult conversion and Ireland led 7 – 0.

Perhaps the early score came too easy for Ireland but for the remainder of the game they played well within themselves and with key players making simple mistakes it wasn’t long before England were on the scoreboard.

Timeline
16 Try Gillian Bourke IRE 5 – 0
17 Con Niamh Briggs IRE 7 – 0
25 Try Rochelle Clark ENG 7 – 5
33 Pen Emily Scarratt ENG 7 – 8
36 Try Katherine Merchant ENG 7 – 13
37 Con Emily Scarratt ENG 7 – 15
40 Pen Emily Scarratt ENG 7 – 18
47 Pen Emily Scarratt ENG 7 – 21
57 Try Kay Wilson ENG 7 – 26
70 Try Marlie Packer ENG 7 – 31
71 Con Ceri Large ENG 7 – 33
74 Try Marlie Packer ENG 7 – 38
74 Con Ceri Large ENG 7 – 40

The English served Ireland up a dose of their own medicine on the 25th minute when Rochelle Clark went over on the back of a driving maul and though Emily Scarratt missed the conversion she made amends on the 33rd minute with a penalty to put England in front 7 – 8.

The match defining moment came three minutes later as England ramped up the pressure and Katherine Merchant brushed aside the talismanic Alison Miller to score a converted try out wide. Scarratt added a second penalty before the break to take the half time score to 7 – 18.

Despite a sterling defensive effort from Grace Davitt and Lynne Cantwell in midfield and, the outstanding, Ashleigh Baxter on the wing, it seemed that Ireland were somewhat overwhelmed by the occasion. However while it was a somewhat under powered performance from Ireland full credit must be given to a clinical England who brought their “A” game and took great delight in putting Ireland to the sword.

Scarrett put the game to bed with her third penalty on the 47th minute before  Kay Wilson and Marlie Packer (2) crossed for further tries. Replacement Cari Large converted two to end a miserable match for Ireland with the final score reading Ireland 7 England 40.

The Front Row Union Player of the Match goes to Ashleigh Baxter who was the stand out player for Ireland. Unfortunately the award is for her performance in a defensive capacity with Ash Bash living up to her name by knocking them over time and again. I’m sure Ulster’s sweetheart and Ireland’s youngest player would have traded a poor personal performance for an Ireland win!

Ireland: Niamh Briggs, Ashleigh Baxter, Lynne Cantwell, Grace Davitt, Alison Miller, Nora Stapleton, Tania Rosser, Fiona Coghlan, Gillian Bourke, Ailis Egan, Sophie Spence, Marie Louise Reilly, Paula Fitzpatrick, Claire Molloy, Heather O’Brien. Replacements: Sharon Lynch, Fiona Hayes, Siobhan Fleming, Laura Guest, Larissa Muldoon, Jenny Murphy, Hannah Casey.

England: Danielle Waterman, Katherine Merchant, Emily Scarratt, Rachael Burford, Kay Wilson, Katy Mclean, La Toya Mason, Rochelle Clark, Victoria Fleetwood, Sophie Hemming, Tamara Taylor, Joanna McGilchrist, Alexandra Matthews, Margaret Alphonsi, Sarah Hunter. Replacements: Emma Croker, Laura Keates, Rebecca Essex, Marlie Packer, Natasha Hunt, Ceri Large, Claire Allan.

Ireland now face France for the 3rd place play off on Sunday 17th. Kick off 3:30 pm UK/IRE.

#SUFTUM