England women out to continue their own momentum

Defending Six Nations champions are missing star players but not the desire to be world's best

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The Independent Online

England women will meet their Irish counterparts today looking to continue their good form following last weekend's 76-0 rout of Scotland, in which they scored 12 tries. With Ireland women beating Wales on the same day, both teams' fortunes mirror those of the men's XVs, who meet tomorrow.

Ireland will offer a much stiffer test than the Scottish though, with the corresponding fixture last year ending 23-6 to England. Their head coach, Gary Street, has rung the changes in his Six nations squad, with 17 players rested in preparation for this summer's Sevens World Cup. Although Street is testing the limits of the defending champions' playing resources, Abigail Chamberlain, who scored two tries in her debut against Scotland, believes the ease of England's opening win with such a relatively inexperienced side will make Ireland take notice.

"I've been told that it's going to be a much tougher challenge," Chamberlain said. "I've never played Ireland but I know a few of the girls that have. I'm more than aware that Ireland will step up their game for England.

"It's the opponent that they want. They want to beat us and I think that they may think this is their opportunity, or they may have thought it prior to the Scotland game.

"But as a group of girls, we like a challenge; we'll be grateful for them to bring a challenge and we'll see what we can do with it."

Chamberlain said it would have been "foolish" to have expected such a great result against Scotland, but admitted she was pleasantly surprised by the way the side has come together.

"We've had two weekends training together so it would have been a bit foolish to expect that result," she said. "But those two weekends had been good and we did click on the pitch; it came together really well."

One of those players to be rested for the Sevens World Cup is IRB Player of the Year, Michaela Staniford, and although she is not part of the championship squad this year, that does not mean she has taken her eye off the 15-a-side game. England have won the last seven Six Nations competitions and Staniford maintains that they don't plan to let-up any time soon.

She said: "We haven't lost in the Six Nations since 2009 and that was to Wales, and we were missing girls who were with the Seven's camp in San Diego, like now. We want to be at the top, we don't want to be chasing other nations so we set the bar very high. For that, we want good games and high competition because we want to be world beaters."