Ireland Women’s run of defeats continued with a 14 – 22 loss to Wales Women in a Six Nations warm-up match at Donnybrook on Sunday afternoon.
Despite the loss, there were plenty of positives to take from this fast-paced and entertaining match as both teams looked to polish their plays ahead of the Six Nations competition which starts on February third with an away trip to Scotland.
Ireland started the game strongly with Alison miller and Claire Molloy causing the visitors plenty of problems. A strong run from Molloy ended with Nora Stapleton touching down on the 11th minute to give Ireland a 7 – 0 lead after Stapleton converted her own try.
Wales responded and left a couple of chances on the pitch as they failed to take advantage of a series of overlaps but, despite their efforts, they still struggled to contain the on fire Molloy who burst through from deep to score Ireland’s second try at the end of the first quarter.
The visitors came storming back and after a period of pressure in the Ireland 22, a strong maul led to back-rower Shona Powell-Hughes touching down. the try was converted by Elinor Snowsil to move the score to 14 – 7 on the half hour mark.
The Welsh, who had enjoyed a recent hit out against Spain, finished the half strongly and following a sin-binning for Ireland’s Elaine Anthony, the visitors found space out wide for Adi Taviner to dive over in the corner. Snowsil missed the conversion and the teams turned round with the score reading Ireland 14 Wales 12.
Ireland lost the hugely impressive Molloy to injury, replaced by Anna Caplice, just before the break and the Ireland management made several more changes on the resumption. Cooke’s Ilse van Staden came on in the front row and Jenny Murphy replaced Claire McLoughlin in the centre.
Van Staden, in particular, caused plenty of problems in the tight but the visitors were growing in confidence in the loose and their impressive pack worked another scoring chance at the end of the third quarter with their impressive captain Sionad Harries going over from close range. Snowsil added the extras and Wales led 14 – 19.
Ireland continued to make substitutions with Jemma Jackson getting a run out at out-half but despite some delightfully deft touches from the Cooke player Ireland continued to struggle to get out of their own half.
The visitors continued to pile on the pressure and really should have claimed a fourth try, a knock on saving Ireland. However, they did add a late penalty, from Snowsil, to record an impressive win.
Final Score: Ireland 14 Wales 22.
IRELAND WOMEN: Mairead Coyne, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Claire McLaughlin, Sene Naoupu, Alison Miller, Nora Stapleton, Ailsa Hughes, Lindsay Peat, Leah Lyons, Ailis Egan, Nichola Fryday, Elaine Anthony, Ciara Griffin, Claire Molloy, Paula Fitzpatrick. Replacements: Niamh Kavanagh, Anna Caplice, Mary Healy, Jenny Murphy, Ilse van Staden, Cliodhna Moloney, Marie Louise Reilly, Jemma Jackson, Ciara O’Connor, Heather O’Brien, Orla Fitzsimons, Laura Feely, Jennie Finlay.
WALES WOMEN: Dyddgu Hywel, Charlie Murray, Gemma Rowland, Rebecca de Filippo, Adi Taviner, Elinor Snowsill, Sian Moore, Caryl Thomas, Carys Phillips, Amy Evans, Siwan Lillicrap, Mel Clay, Shona Powell-Hughes, Rachel Taylor, Sionad Harries. Replacements: Robyn Wilkins, Rhiannon Parker, Jessica Kavanagh-Williams, Kerin Lake, Rebecca Rowe, Cerys Hale, Lowri Harries, Jodie Evans, Nia Elen Davies.
Match gallery below.
Photo credit Bob Given Photography.