England expose Irish flaws but Griggs hoping to stay on and build for future
England 33 Ireland 11
The final scoreline reflected the gulf in class between the two teams and while there were some positives, this defeat was a sobering reminder of how much work is needed if Ireland are to dine at the top table again.
Ireland came to spoil England's party as they chased the Six Nations title, and while they didn't manage to do so, that was left to France whose win over Wales saw them crowned champions.
Ireland's error count was again far too high and against a team of England's quality, they were always up against it.
Claire Molloy again impressed and her late try put some sort of respectability on the scoreline. Katie Fitzhenry has been a real bright spark throughout the Six Nations and her aggression in midfield was very much needed.
Trailing 19-6 at half-time, there was never any way back for Ireland who now wait to see if Adam Griggs stays on as head coach. The Kiwi's position will be reviewed by the IRFU but Griggs confirmed that he wanted to remain in the job.
"I'd love to build on what we have done so far," Griggs said.
"Hopefully we can sort something and if it's agreed, then great. It'd be huge to get some November internationals. That would be key. The next Six Nations is a qualifier for Ireland, so getting those games is definitely a must for us.
"If you look at our club game, it's a bit below what it's like in England. We have to try and expose them to as much high-performance rugby as we can.
"Having more inter-pro games is our first stepping stone to getting that high level. The AIL can follow that.
"We're already getting younger girls playing the game at grassroots which is a must for us. Some of our group out there started playing rugby at 19/20, whereas some of the English girls are 19/20 years old. That shows where we need to get to from the bottom to build to the top."
Ireland struggled at the lineout and it was their undoing after 10 minutes when England capitalised on the error before moving the ball wide.
Katy Daley-McClean's grubber kick caught out the Irish defence and Danielle Waterman pounced to score, and become England's all-time record try scorer (47).
Ireland almost responded immediately when Nicole Cronin went haring down the left but she was stopped just short. That lifted the confidence levels of the visitors and they were rewarded for their pressure when Hannah Tyrrell put them on the board with a 20th-minute penalty.
However, just as Ireland had worked hard to gain a foothold, they conceded two tries in four minutes from mauls.
Marlie Packer was first to get on the end of a powerful maul, and Amy Cokayne repeated the trick shortly after, with Daley-McClean converting both for a commanding 19-3 lead.
Niamh Briggs passed her HIA, and she added a second penalty to cut the gap to 13 points at the break.
The one-way traffic continued after the restart, as Ireland were camped inside their own 22 before their defence was breached again.
Cronin and Fitzhenry stopped Waterman getting over for her second try but there was no halting Ellie Kildunne shortly before the hour mark as she secured the bonus point.
Daley-McClean bisected the posts with the conversion and did so again five minutes later when Amber Reed ran clear to stretch the lead.
To their credit, Ireland never gave in and they got over for a consolation try through Molloy with nine minutes remaining, but the writing had long been on the wall at that stage.
"It's the story of our Six Nations, we've been good in bits and pieces but we haven't put it altogether for 80 minutes," Griggs added. "They've got better each time and as a coach that's all you can ask for."
England Women - E Kildunne; K Smith, L Tuina (Z Harrison 65), R Burford (A Reed h-t), D Waterman; K Daley-Mclean, C Mattinson (L Riley 50); V Cornborough (R Clark 65), A Cokayne (L Davies 65), S Bern (J Lucas 65); A Scott, P Cleall (S Brown 59); R Burnfield (C O'Donnell 50), M Packer, S Hunter (capt).
Ireland Women - H Tyrrell; M Williams (K Flood 68), K Fitzhenry, S Naoupu, L Galvin; N Briggs (M Claffey 18-26, 65)), N Cronin (A Hughes 59); L Peat (L Feely 65), C Moloney (C O'Connor 68), L Lyons (F Reidy 59); A McDermott (C Cooney 51), P Fitzpatrick; A Baxter (A Caplice 68), C Molloy, C Griffin (capt).
REF - A Nievas (Spain