England find finishing touch to breeze past Irish resistance
WOMEN'S WORLD CUP
Ireland's sterling efforts, particularly in defence, warranted more out of this game but tries from England's Fiona Pocock and Katherine Merchant had Philip Doyle's side 12-0 down at half-time.
Full-back Niamh Briggs missed penalty and drop goal attempts and, while centre Lynne Cantwell threatened with ball in hand, Amy Turner and Maggie Alphonsi touched down in the second half to seal a bonus point for the hosts.
England showed their finishing power when it mattered and two tries towards the end of both halves put them out of Ireland's reach.
Fittingly, the fourth and final one fell to tireless flanker Maggie Alphonsi, who put in 21 tackles throughout this gripping tussle.
Ireland stood firm during an early barrage from Gary Street's side, but numbers out wide on the left led to winger Pocock picking off a ninth-minute try, which out-half Katy McLean converted.
Alphonsi rampaged through the middle after a quick lineout, and the recycle was worked out to winger Merchant for the second try. McLean missed the conversion and a late penalty as Ireland turned around with a 12-0 deficit.
Strong forward play from Fiona Coghlan, the busy Claire Molloy and Joy Neville helped Ireland begin the second half in good stead, again though their efforts went unrewarded as Briggs missed a drop goal shot.
A quick tap penalty from scrum-half Turner saw her score from close range and push the lead out to 17-0. England got a flattering fourth try, with Alphonsi clinching the bonus point just minutes after a penalty from McLean.
ENGLAND -- D Waterman; K Merchant (C Barras 62), E Scarratt, R Burford (A Richardson 62), F Pocock; K McLean, A Turner (L Mason 72); R Clark (C Purdy 62), A Garnett (E Layland 62), S Hemming; B Essex (T Taylor 62), J McGilchrist; H Fisher (S Hunter 62), M Alphonsi, C Spencer (capt).
IRELAND -- N Briggs; A Davis, J O'Sullivan, L Cantwell (S Houston 62), N Stapleton; H Brosnan, T Rosser; F Coghlan (capt) (L Guest 80+1), G Bourke, L Austin (Y Nolan 62), K O'Loughlin, M Louise Reilly, O Brennan, C Molloy, J Neville (S Ryan 75).
Ref -- S Corrigan (Australia).