Ailis Egan celebrates with her teammates after scoring Ireland's opening try in the 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup.

Ailis Egan celebrates with her teammates after scoring Ireland’s opening try in the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup.

Ireland secured an all important 23 – 17 win against the USA yesterday afternoon to open their account at the 2014 Womens Rugby World Cup in Marcoussis, France.

Prop Ailis Egan picked up Ireland’s opening try and, fullback superstar, Niamh Briggs reaped the rewards of the packs hard work scoring 18 points with a try, three penalties and two conversions. 

However, despite the win, with England and Canada securing bonus point wins in Pool A, Ireland now find themselves on the back foot in the race for the top four and it looks like a win against New Zealand, in their next match on Tuesday, will be required if the team is to achieve their stated aim!

It is the World Cup after all and in the cold light of day Ireland will be disappointed that they didn’t kick on to add to their two fist half tries for a vital bonus point.

Ireland got off to a good start, dominating the opening exchanges, and worked an early penalty as the USA struggled to get their hands on the ball. Niamh Briggs knocked over the early penalty and Ireland took a 3 – 0 lead.

Timeline
03 Pen Briggs IRE 3 – 0
06 Try Kugler USA 3 – 5
07 Con Rozier USA 3 – 7
10 Pen Briggs IRE 6 – 7
31 Try Egan IRE 11 – 7
32 Con Briggs IRE 13 – 7
35 Pen Rozier USA 13 – 10
40 Try Briggs IRE 18 – 10
40 Con Briggs IRE 20 – 10
42 Try Farmer USA 20 – 15
43 Con Rozier USA 20 – 17
60 Pen Briggs IRE 23 – 17

The tables were turned almost immediately with the US now enjoying possession and they showed some confidence  to opt for a kick to touch rather than an equalising penalty. The gamble paid off as the resultant line out led to a couple of rumbles towards the Ireland line before the ball was moved out one to wing forward Lynelle Kugler who cut inside the defense to score close to the posts. Kimber Rozier added the extras and the Eagles led 3 – 7.

The tit-for-tat continued as Ireland marched straight back down the pitch for Briggs to knock over her second penalty to take it to a one point game and, crucially, they were able to rebuff the American response and the match began to settle down.

Despite a few glitches in the scrum and line out, which will give forwards coach Peter Bracken something to work on, Ireland began to get on top of the big American pack. The front row of Ailis Egan, Fiona Coghlan and Gill Bourke put in a strong shift in the loose, ably supported by Sophie Spence and Claire Molloy and their work was rewarded just after the half hour mark when Egan went over for Ireland’s first try after good work by Coghlan and Spence. Briggs converted and Ireland were back in front at 13 -7.

Both teams lost a player to the bin within minutes of each other and the US reaped the rewards with a Rozier penalty on the 35th minute after Claire Molly had departed. Ireland however showed their experience and worked a converted try by Briggs on the stroke of half time to give Ireland a 20 – 10 lead as the teams went into the break.

Ireland will be very disappointed that they conceded a soft try after the restart with second row Carmen Farmer crashing over on the 42nd minute and, with Rozier converting, it was down to a three point game.

With a win absolutely vital, in what is basically a sprint to the semi-finals, neither team wanted to lose and, though the pace was frenetic throughout this encounter, neither side were able to really open up. Fortunately Ireland had the game management skills to control the remainder of the game, winning the little battles that kept the Eagles pinned in their own half as the clock ticked down. They will be disappointed however that they were only able to add a third Briggs penalty to give a final score of Ireland 23 USA 17.

The Front Row Union Player of the Match goes to Ailis Egan who had a storming game up front in a forwards dominate tussle. Not only did Ailis grab Ireland’s opening try, her second score in two games, but her work rate round the pitch tipped the breakdown in Ireland’s favour. A phenomenal effort. 

Ireland: Fiona Coghlan (C), Gillian Bourke, Ailis Egan, Sophie Spence, Marie Louise Reilly, Siobhan Fleming, Claire Molloy, Heather O’Brien, Tania Rosser, Nora Stapleton, Alison Miller, Grace Davitt, Lynne Cantwell, Ashleigh Baxter, Niamh Briggs. Replacements: Sharon Lynch, Fiona Hayes, Laura Guest, Paula Fitzpatrick, Larissa Muldoon, Jenny Murphy, Jackie Shiels.

USA: Hope Rogers, Kathryn Augustyn, Jamie Burke, Carmen Farmer, Sarah Walsh, Jillion Potter, Lynelle Kugler, Kate Daley (C), Jocelyn Tseng, Kimberly Rozier, Sadie Anderson, Emilie Bydwell, Akalaini “Bui” Baravilala, Vanesha McGee, Meya Bizer. Replacements: Kittery Wagner, Sarah Chobot, Sarah Wilson, Sharon Blaney, Shaina Turley, Deven Owsiany, Hannah Stolba

As they Stand: Pool B
Team P W D L PF PA TF TA BP PTS
New Zealand 1 1 0 0 79 5 13 1 1 5
Ireland 1 1 0 0 23 17 2 2 0 4
USA 1 0 0 1 17 23 2 2 1 1
Kazakhstan 1 0 0 1 5 79 1 13 0 0

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