Women's Six Nations: Ireland 7-51 England

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Daley-Mclean shines as England thrash Ireland
Women's Six Nations: Ireland v England
Ireland (0) 7
Try: Penalty
England (13) 51
Tries: Breach, McKenna, Bern, Davies, Daley-McLean, Harrison, Scott, B Cleall Cons: Daley-McLean 4 Pen: Daley-Mclean

Championship hopefuls England made a statement of intent as they opened their Women's Six Nations campaign with an eight-try win over Ireland.

Jess Breach and Sarah McKenna put the visitors ahead in the first half after Ireland were unable to capitalise on early territory at Donnybrook.

Three England tries within 13 minutes of the restart put the result beyond doubt before they ran in three more.

The outclassed hosts could only score through a penalty try.

Last month the Rugby Football Union brought the number of Women's 15-a-side players on permanent contracts to 28, as the 2014 World Cup winners seek to bring their game to the next level.

Judging by Friday's performance, the new professional set-up is already paying dividends as England outperformed their opponents in every area of the encounter.

Dogged Ireland attempt to weather first half storm

Ireland's first half performance will offer coach Adam Griggs reason for optimism as his team begin preparations for their trip to Glasgow next week.

The hosts began brightly and nearly scored through the lively Michelle Claffey, who was brought down just short of the line having weaved through the England defence.

However in truth once Breach evaded two tackles to go over for the opening try, there was nothing to suggest anything other than a comfortable English win.

Sarah Bern, in her first game back after nearly a year out with injury, and fellow prop Hannah Botterman were influential throughout and were a constant threat with ball in hand.

After McKenna latched onto Katy Daley-McLean's grubber kick England's forwards took over with Bern and Lark Davies powering over from close range to secure the bonus-point.

Jess Breach
Former Sevens player Jess Breach scored the first try of the 2019 championship

Visitors exhibit much-vaunted strength in depth

With new players coming through the ranks, the 2014 World Cup winners can also call on an experienced core of seasoned internationals including Emily Scarratt and fly-half Daly-McClean, whose score was just rewards for a commanding individual display.

England are expected to battle it out with holders France at the top of the table with their new era of professionalism allowing for better squad depth.

In Dublin, the English replacements found rich rewards against a worn-down Irish defence.

Zoe Harrison and Emily Scott both made use of the widening gaps in the home defence to add their names to the list of try-scorers before debutant Bryony Cleall added the final try in the last minute.

The resounding win will set England up nicely for what is likely to be the tournament's pivotal encounter next Sunday when Simon Middleton's side host France.

Emily Scott
Emily Scott was one of three England replacements to score late in the game

'We have set the benchmark'

England's player of the match Katy Daly-McLean

"We have had a decent amount of time coming in to the game and we have worked on what we needed to get better. They do not get much tougher than this. It is a five-game tournament and it's really important you build.

"The way we kept the ball towards the end was pleasing and that will be the benchmark."

Ireland: Delany; Considine, Naoupu, Claffey, Williams; Fowley, Hughes; Feely, Lyons, Reidy; McDermott, Fryday; Short, Molloy, Griffin.

Replacements: Hooban, Djougang, O'Hora, Caplice, McLaughlin, Dane, Muphy, Miller,

England: McKenna; Breach, Scarratt, Heard, Smith; Daley-Mclean, Riley; Botterman, Davies, Bern, O'Donnell, P Cleall, Beckett, Packer, Hunter.

Replacements: Cokayne, B Cleall, Brown, Galligan, Burnfield, Hunt, Harrison, Scott.