IRELAND made sure their first ever home Six Nations win was a convincing one, as the host team finally tasted victory on home soil in this competition.
It was also Ireland s most convincing attacking display in recent years, as they scored five tries against a side they have only ever beaten once before. While Ireland started well, Spain were the first to score after out-half Ines Etxegibel knocked over the first penalty after 16 minutes. Etxegibel had impressed early on with her astute tactical kicking. Ireland s breakthrough however, after clear dominance, finally came when former Irish captain Suzanne Fleming joined the line off her left wing and her excellent link-up with flanker Rachel Boyd, created the space for scrum-half Tania Rosser who finished excellently off the right flank.
It was Rosser s second try for Ireland in ten days as she also scored her side s only try against the Americans last week as she was once again a major threat around the fringes. The name of Ireland s game though was pressure, and unlike last week against the USA, they kept the foot on their tight defensive wall, forcing Spain to fumble in the middle and cough up plenty of possession throughout the 80 minutes.
Most pleasing though was their excellent continuity game with the likes of centre Lynne Cantwell, out-half Sarahjane Belton and Rosser all doing well to keep the ball alive following some terrific breaks.
After the break, with Spain down to 14 players following the binning of centre Elena Roca, Ireland scored two of the best tries they have ever put together and it was flanker Orla Brennan who touched down both, for her first scores for Ireland. The first was the end product of a super break from Belton, and Brennan dived over after Ireland secured possession off their own line-out.
Seconds later Rosser and Rachel Boyd linked up to wreak havoc down the middle of the pitch and Brennan was on hand to take an inside pass from Belton to cross once more. O Sullivan had taken over kicking duties from Belton who missed a few earlier but she slotted both wide to leave Ireland leading 15-3.
Spain were down to 14 again when number 8 Angelina Masdeu was off for stamping.
Ireland were in dreamland five minutes later as they looked to completely put Spain to bed, and it was Belton s break again who set up the position with the excellent Suzanne Fleming finishing very well in the corner after Ireland had recycled quickly.
It was seismic stuff for Ireland who looked like scoring now every time they got the ball, and it was the captain, Belton who was next to cross the line, when Rosser again made a superb break and the ball came back to Belton after some good work from the pack and the skipper finished in the far corner.
Spain were awarded a penalty try before the death but it was too late to sour a fantastic home win for the Irish.
Ireland captain Sarahjane Belton was delighted with the win.
"We had been training very well, and today Spain just wanted to kick the ball all day and our back three dealt well with it and we were able to play how we wanted to. It's a great start for us."
Scorers Spain: I Etxegibel 1 pen 1 con, 1 penalty try,
Scorers Ireland: T Rosser 1 try, O Brennan 2 tries, S Fleming 1 try. SJ Belton 1 try,
Ireland: J O Sullivan, N Ni Chaidhan, L Cantwell, P Kelly, S Fleming, SJ Belton (c) (T Rosser, F Coughlan (vc), J Lonergan, M Barrett, C Mahon, G Healy, O Brennan, R Boyd J Neville: Replacments: G Davitt (for N Ni Chaidhain 68 mins), G McAllister (for M Barrrett 12 mins), L Geist (for F Coghlan 73), Y Nolan (for J Lonergan 73), L Beamish (for T Rosser 73), A Greensmith (for J O Sullivan 78), S Ryan (for O Brennan 79).
Spain: M Poza, M Vila, A Obregozo, E Roca, B Garcia, I Etzegibel, I Rodriguex, N Otxoa, A Gonzalez, R Garcia, A Porras, M T del Gado, B Pla, R Estanyol, A Masdeu.
Replacments: L Bailan (for M T Delgaudo 57 mins), R Romirez (for E Roca 57), I Rodriguez (for M Vila 57), M D C Sequedo (for N Otxoa 67), M D M Perez (for A Porraz 69)
Referee: D Jones (WRU)