Abby Dow vs Ireland image
The ball carrying was sublime, the line breaks were scintillating and if England’s winning 88-10 performance against Ireland was a piece of music, it would be a symphony to behold.

Twickenham Stadium was already a cacophony of noise, raucous with the buzz of Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s half-time medley, but the stage was all England’s.

John Mitchell and his coaching staff, the conductors of this show, are coming to the fore, reshaping Red Roses rugby to a new tempo.

And it is all starting to pay off on the field. All the right notes are being hit, from the engine room to the pacey backs, this team are formidable when they tune themselves together. The sum of all these parts is tries.

That is not to say their previous displays have been disappointing, far from it, but this showing cemented how England want to be perceived by the rest of the world: daring, ruthless and unapologetic in attack.

Now it is just France who stand in the way of their fifth consecutive Grand Slam (excluding 2021’s alternative format) at Stade Chaban-Delmas, in what will be another spine-tingling cauldron of sound.

Following the glitter and the pyrotechnics in London, Abby Dow was the first to explode over the line, dotting down for the opener of her hat-trick of tries.

The wing looked at home all over the field and caused problems from the off to Ireland’s defence, who were consistently made to camp inside their 22.

Her hat-trick was matched by Player of the Match and the moment Ellie Kildunne who, at full-back, kept pace with her indomitable teammate Dow for another three tries across 80 minutes.

Dow credited the emphatic victory to the philosophy of those around her, particularly Brian Ashton in a mentorship capacity, as she sets her sights across the Channel for potential Guinness Women’s Six Nations glory.

“It was a really good example of us trying to play as one team,” she said.

“We went out there and managed to put on the performance that we wanted, playing the variety of rugby that we want to strive for.

“We have a real desire as a team, as much as we all compete within the competition, we compete with ourselves and each other.

“It gives us new opportunities to push ourselves and push where that limit is for us, jumping into that challenge every single day is keeping us fresh, keeping us going and growing and demanding more of ourselves as a team.

“Having Brian Ashton available, I absolutely adore the man and he makes us ask those questions.

“How he phrases it, he makes you rethink the philosophy of rugby.”

It would end up a long afternoon for Ireland and Scott Bemand, who was part of England’s Grand Slam-winning set-up a year ago, though the visitors did have their glimpses through Brittany Hogan’s brilliance in the lineout and Dannah O’Brien’s reliable boot.

In the first half, Mo Hunt, Meg Jones and Zoe Aldcroft secured England an early bonus point with their scores in front of 48,778 fans.

Sadia Kabeya was incredible, rewarded and awarded for her efforts by the TMO with her own try in the second half as Jess Breach ran riot on the wing for a brace.

England displayed their depth too as reinforcements proved themselves on the biggest of rugby stages with Maddie Feaunati scoring her first Red Roses try in front of the Twickenham roar.

Rosie Galligan was a loss after dislocating her thumb in the warm up but Morwenna Talling slotted in seamlessly. And while Lark Atkin-Davies’ worrying injury put a dent in England’s plans, their reliable squad powered through convincingly.

“We presented a performance where we went up a gear,” Mitchell said. “We asked that of them during the week and they certainly delivered that.

“We’ll enjoy this moment, we’ve got plenty of time to prepare for the next match.

“What we can learn from the match is that our plans worked, that’s the exciting thing, when you can see the smiles on their faces because they see the reality of the plans being transferred.

“We love building pressure on opposition both on and off the ball, we find ways to try and squeeze opposition which is a testament to the girls who go out there and own it.”

The scores and sheets are composed for next Saturday’s showdown in France, and it will be up to Mitchell and his orchestra of talent to perform to a similar standard next weekend.