Record-breaking Nollie Waterman is unable to spark a Ricoh Arena double celebration
Date: 18 Mar 2018
The England versus Ireland Six Nations double-header at the Ricoh Arena provided a crowd of nearly 7,500 with a night of mixed emotions.
Inspired by record-breaking Danielle Waterman, England’s women claimed a 33-11 bonus point success.
And with Harlequins winger Gabriel Ibotoye prominent throughout, the hosts’ male under-20’s then produced a similarly emphatic 48-15 win.
However, both teams missed out on Six Nations glory, as French victories in Wales secured both titles.
The red roses took the lead in the 11th minute when Katy Daley-McLean sent a delicate chip to the corner and Wasps’ winger Waterman won the race to touch down her 47th international try. This took her past Wasps FC president Sue Day, to become England's all-time record try-scorer
Ireland replied through Hannah Tyrell’s penalty, before driving lineout tries finished by Marlie Packer and Wasps hooker Amy Cokayne and converted by Daley-Mclean gave the home side a comfortable 16-point advantage.
Niamh Briggs pulled back three points with a penalty six minutes from halftime, but any thoughts of an Irish comeback ended when England fired off a further two-try salvo at the end of the third quarter.
Player-of-the-match Ellie Kildunne powered her way over in the left corner for the first of these, then created the second for Amber Reed with a scintillating run.
Daley-McLean converted both, which meant Claire Molloy’s 71st minute score provided the visitors with no more than a little late consolation.
This meant the red roses finished as runners-up - the same fate that ultimately befell the under 20’s. However, Steve Bates’ team did everything within their power to defy the French on points difference by romping to a seven-try success at the Ricoh.
A frenetic opening saw Ireland skipper Tommy O’Brien send James Hume over in the right corner, only for England to immediately draw level when Ben Loader leapt to gather James Grayson’s cross-field kick before smashing through a tackle to claim a superb solo effort.
Ireland reclaimed the lead five minutes later when O’Brien intercepted Fraser Dingwall’s pass inside the England 22, to cross for a simple score which Byrne converted.
Dingwall quickly atoned for his error when he went over in the corner, following a brilliant run by full back Jordan Olowofela. Tom Hardwick’s conversion levelled the scores and the centre then landed the long-range penalty that put the hosts ahead for the first time.
However, Ireland ended the half strongly and Byrne’s penalty, on the stroke of halftime, made it all-square at the break.
Wasps’ hooker Gaby Oghre arrived from the bench with 30 minutes remaining, and England promptly produced an outstanding counter-attack try.
After the home side won a turnover near their own line, Grayson’s long pass found Ibitoye whose blistering pace took him over halfway. He found Ben White in support, and the scrum-half had the pace to outstrip the defence for a memorable score.
Hardwick converted before replacement prop Joe Heyes forced his way over for the bonus point try which opened the floodgates.
As the visitors tired in the closing 14 minutes, this enabled England to add further tries through Ibitoye, Josh Basham and skipper Ben Earl.