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Ireland already showing form of champions


©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Ireland looked every bit the Six Nations champions they are as they ran in 11 tries, including a hat-trick from second-row Sophie Spence, to get the defence of their title off to a stunning start with a 59-0 win over Scotland at Ashbourne last night.

Philip Doyle's side were simply unstoppable and held the upper hand in every facet of the game.

Allison Miller and Lynne Cantwell also bagged two tries each as Jules Maxton's inexperienced outfit were routed.

From the first attack, Ireland's intentions were clear as Cantwell almost crossed for the first try in the left corner following a blistering move through the backs.

Scotland were penalised for not rolling away from the tackle and, after Nora Stapleton kicked to the corner, Sophie Spence barrelled over following a clever set move at the front of the line-out.

From the restart, Ireland continued to pummel Scotland and although they were twice held up over the line, Allison Miller bagged Ireland's second after a first-phase move off the back of a scrum.

Stapleton added the conversion to give Ireland a 12-0 lead after 10 minutes, and 10 minutes later the home side crossed for a third try from Heather O'Brien, after Claire Molloy turned over the ball in the middle of a maul.

We didn't have to wait long for the fourth try as Miller showed amazing speed to run in from the halfway line and score in the left corner in the 23rd minute and, on the half-hour mark, Cantwell got in on the act when she raced in following Jackie Shields' neat off-load.

But still Doyle's troops were not satisfied.

And five minutes from the break they underlined their total dominance by mauling over from 22 metres out, with Spence dotting down for her second try and a 32-0 half-time lead.

The towering lock completed her hat-trick seven minutes after the restart and Scotland's challenge was weakened further when flanker Tess Forsberg was sin-binned.

An Eilis Egan try for Ireland was quickly followed by another from Stacey Lee Kennedy in the 55th minute, which Jenny Murphy converted to leave it 49-0 before Cantwell and Claire Molloy completed the job.

Ireland: J Shiels (N Briggs 64); H Casey, L Cantwell, J Murphy (G Davitt 64), A Miller; N Stapleton, A Davis (L Muldoon 63); F Coghlan (KA Craddock 64), SL Kennedy (G Bourke 59), A Egan (F Hayes 52); S Spence, ML Reilly (O Fitzsimmons 55); S Fleming (P Fitzpatrick 59), C Molloy, H O' Brien.

Scotland: S Johnston; K Green (L Steven 48), A Sergeant, G Inglis, M Gaffney; L Martin (T Griffiths 64), S Law (L Dalgliesh ht); T Balmer (L Robertson 54), S Quick (N McLeod ht), L Smith (H Lockhart h-t); J Konkel, D McCormack; T Forsberg, R Slaven (A Stodter 60), L Wheeler.

Referee: C Hodnett (England)

Belfast Telegraph