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England women inflict record defeat on Ireland

England's 79 - 0 victory over Ireland at Sixways Stadium in Worcester on Saturday is the highest margin of victory in the history of the fixture.

The result was a blow to the confidence of an aspiring, but inexperienced Irish side. For England captain Paula George and her squad it was another step of a meticulously planned journey to Six Nations and World Cup glory.

England notched a half-century by halftime, with tries from hooker Amy Garnett, centre Assunta De Biase, wings Chris Diver (3) and Nicky Crawford, scrum-half Jo Yapp and captain and fullback Paula George, five of which were converted by no.8 Clare Frost. The Irish put up sterner resistance in the third quarter, but then the floodgates opened again to let in George, Crawford, replacement wing Emily Feltham, centre Sue Day and a fourth try from Diver. Frost added another two-point conversion and flyhalf and IRB Female Player of the Year Shelley Rae, who came on in the second half, slotted another.

"We hit our target today to keep a clean sheet defensively, which is something we've been working incredibly hard on," said Paula George after the match. "The mood in the team is really positive. We've just come off the back of an incredibly successful 2001 season and the summer tour really brought us together. It's very tight within the squad and there's a real feeling and culture of excellence."

"We've made a lot of progress in two years, but not enough", was the comment from Ireland Coach Donal O'Leary, who will have a tough time now to build belief in a young side that in the first round also lost narrowly to Wales.

In the other games of the Women's Six Nations Tournament, France beat Wales 20 - 0 on Friday 15th February in Bridgend and Scotland defeated Spain 17-15 in Palma de Mallorca today. France and England, both so far undefeated, will meet in the next round of the Six Nations on Friday 1st March at Tournon, Lyon in France.