A scintillating first-half hat-trick from Alison Miller set Ireland on the road to glory and their first win against England.
On an unforgettable day for Irish rugby, the Portlaoise winger set the tone for her side right from kick off, scoring Ireland’s first try when the game was barely seven minutes old, and in the warm afterglow of the triumph, the star was elated.
“It’s unbelievable and even though we are delighted, I suppose it won’t really hit us until later. We believed we could win but to carry out something that we thought we could do is just the best feeling,” she smiled.
The hat-trick heroine told of her delight at leading the team’s scoring charge but heaped praise on her team-mates for putting her in position to score.
“It was amazing but in a way I was at the right end of the moves so I have to give credit to the team, the other backs, and the forwards who created the momentum for us. It’s great to be able to finish off the moves and get over the line,” added the former Laois footballer.
Miller’s tries helped her side go into the break with a 20-0 lead they never looked in danger of relinquishing. Ireland took full advantage of the sin-binning of English hooker Rochelle Clark shortly after the restart, with Niamh Briggs getting the try that put the match beyond England’s reach.
Despite England’s stature in the game, the Irish team were undaunted by the challenge that awaited them and, after 17 defeats at the hands of their rivals, they were determined that Saturday would be the day when they finally overcame their greatest rivals.
“We had a good run last year and we knew we had to improve on a few key things and if we did that, we believed we could win. There always has to be a first time for everything and today was the day we said, ‘why not today?’” explained Miller, who made her Ireland debut in the 2010 tournament. “We were very clinical and performed the basics well. We also had a huge hunger to win. There were years of Ireland losing to England by high scores and it was the time to change that. We just took it into our hands and did what we were planning to do. Heart and determination made a huge difference and we had great home support like we always do.”
Scorers for Ireland: Tries: Miller 3, Briggs. Con: Briggs. Pen: Briggs.
IRELAND: N Briggs; A Baxter; L Cantwell; J Murphy; A Miller; N Stapleton; L Muldoon; F Coghlan; G Bourke; A Egan; S Spence; ML Reilly: S Fleming; C Molloy, J Neville.
Replacements: A Davis for Muldoon, N Kavanagh for Baxter, SL Kennedy for Bourke (all 63); G Davitt for Murphy (69); L Day for Egan, F Hayes for Coghlan, L Dargan for Spence (all 73); L Guest for Molloy (74).
ENGLAND: K Wilson; F Mathews; A Chamberlain; A Reed; S Tuson; C Large; LT Mason; R Clark; V Fleetwood; S Hemming; R Burnfield; T Taylor; J McGilchrist; H Gallagher, S Hunter.
Replacements: R Crowley for Clark (42); R Essex for Burnfield and L Cattell for Wilson (48); E Croker for Fleetwood and L Keates for Hemming (53); H Millar-Mills for McGilchrist and F Pocock for Matthews (58), G Gulliver for Mason (68).