Breach makes early breakthrough as England beat Ireland

Jess Breach helped England women begin their Six Nations campaign with a bonus-point 51-7 win against Ireland in Dublin.

Monday, 4th February 2019, 8:11 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 8:31 pm
Jess Breach

On a cold night at Donnybrook, first half scores from West Sussex star Breach and Sarah McKenna were added to by Sarah Bern, Lark Davies, Katy Daley-Mclean, Zoe Harrison, Emily Scott and Bryony Cleall in the second 40 minutes as the Red Roses ran out comfortable winners.

With England's first meaningful attack, the ball was spun to wing Breach and she handed off two players to sprint in down the right flank after five minutes.

The try will have been cheered at Chichester and Pulborough rugby clubs, where Breach played girls' rugby at the start of a career that has now taken her to Harlequins and has seen her play for England sevens in the Commonwealth Games.

Daley-Mclean slotted a penalty to extend the lead then pulled off a superbly weighted grubber that allowed McKenna to race through and dot down, as the Red Roses held a 13-0 lead at half-time.

Bern's powerful burst from Poppy Cleall's offload saw her score, before Davies scored from a driving maul off the back of a lineout as England secured the bonus-point.

Daley-Mclean, who had a 16-point haul on the night, then sniped over before Ireland got their only points when a powerful scrum resulted in a penalty try.

Harrison finished off some excellent offloading with a clever dummy, Scott rounded off a flowing move out on the left wing before debutant Bryony Cleall got England's eighth and final score of the night as she powered over from close range.

The match in Dublin saw two players make their debuts as Bryony Cleall, twin sister of forward Poppy, and Rosie Galligan came off the bench to feature in a senior Test for the first time.

There was also more valuable minutes for less experienced members of the squad including Sarah Beckett with her second cap, Jess Breach and Tatyana Heard made their third appearances, with Hannah Botterman, Kelly Smith and Shaunagh Brown all earning their sixth caps.

Head coach Simon Middleton has spoken about wanting to grow the squad as they look ahead to the next World Cup in New Zealand in 2021, and all the players will have gained valuable game time as they look to settle in international rugby.

There were a number of players back in the XVs shirt for various reasons with all having a real impact on the team.

Breach, returning from the sevens programme, effortlessly settled back into Test rugby with her early try her 12th in just three outings. Emily Scarratt and Natasha Hunt are also back from playing sevens for England, with centre Scarratt industrious in midfield while Hunt added energy and impetus when she came on as a replacement.

Prop Sarah Bern put her run of injuries behind her with an excellent performance in the scrum as well as carrying in the loose as shown by her score, while Amy Cokayne returned to international rugby after work commitments and put in an all-action performance as a replacement for Marlie Packer.

Head coach Simon Middleton: "Lots and lots to work on especially with our execution, but both defensively and offensively I thought we'd taken some of the stuff we've been working in training on, so really pleased with that."

Next, England play France on Sunday (Feb 10) at 12.45pm at Doncaster. It's live on Sky Sports.