Work still to do for England even if Red Roses remain locked on course for second successive Grand Slam
PUBLISHED: 12:42 24 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:48 24 February 2020
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England may be on course for a second successive Grand Slam in the Women’s Six Nations after their 27-0 victory over Ireland in Doncaster but Sarah McKenna says there is still plenty of work to do.
The Harpenden star, and coach of OA Saints, bagged the fifth try in the Red Roses' third win from three in this year's tournament but it was the only try of the second period.
That was totally out of keeping with their usual swagger and can't be put down solely to a swirling wind at Castle Park according to the full-back.
"We're usually so good at managing the game with our kicking," she said.
"We like to go cross-field to Abby [Dow] and Jess [Breach] to give the opposition another thing to deal with but the wind took that away from us.
"It gave us more to do in terms of our attack but while it did take its toll and play its part, we know we have to be better than that.
"Our handling wasn't where it needed to be and we need to be a team that can play in the bad weather and the good."
A plus point was the amount of big hits, usually completed by two players, which frustrated Ireland and kept them out despite having large swathes of possession.
That was a deliberate ploy from the hosts although even there, McKenna believes there are edges to smooth.
She said: "We got the stat through that we were the lowest in the championship on dominant tackles and we pride ourselves on being a physical team.
"We felt we were letting ourselves down and we could have so much more power and so much more presence in defence.
"We've got unbelievably strong hitters and people who are good over the ball and we weren't getting ourselves into the positions to do that.
"We did get more positive shots out there but we probably allowed Ireland to keep the ball for too long.
"If we allow teams to keep the ball for that long then there is the worry points will come from that.
"We know we have prolific try scorers but if we don't have the ball we can't make use of them."
Her try on 60 minutes was one which saw England use a grittier style, McKenna powering over from close range, but as ever nothing beats scoring for your country.
"It's been a little bit of time since I've got on the score sheet for England but it is always good when I do," she said with a smile.
"There was a lot of hard work done out there and not a lot of space at times.
"We had to play through them which is unusual. We like to play round them especially with the likes of Abby Dow and Jess Breach on the wing.
"But this showed we can play like that although we may be a bit out of practice.
"Ireland gave us some tough things to deal with and their defence was really challenging."
England's penultimate match is against Wales at Twickenham Stoop on March 7 before concluding the championship in Italy.
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