Miller helps herself to a hat-trick of tries on an historic day for Ireland
Ireland 25 England 0Ireland made history at Ashbourne RFC on Saturday afternoon as a hat-trick of tries from Connacht’s Alison Miller gave Philip Doyle’s side their first success over England in what was the 18th outing between the two rival nations.
Speaking in the aftermath of a monumental day, Irish coach Doyle found it difficult to describe just how big an achievement this victory was for his team, but did feel that it was long overdue given the work that has gone into promoting women’s rugby in Ireland.
“It’s extremely hard to put into words. Women’s rugby has been in Ireland for 20 years now at international level, and it has been a long time coming. There’s a very special bunch of girls here, I’ve always said that,” Doyle remarked.
“We’ve been building over the last four to five years. It just encapsulates what we’ve done.”
Though the defending Grand Slam champions were red-hot favourites heading into this tie, Ireland were determined to make an impression in front of the home support and took a surprise lead seven minutes in, when excellent approach play by Niamh Briggs put the pacy Miller through in the left-corner.
This came as a shock to the system for England, and even though the visitors displayed flashes of what they were capable of, a 16th minute penalty from full-back Briggs, supplemented by further tries from the outstanding Miller in the 25th and 35th minutes respectively (the latter converted superbly by Briggs) handed Ireland an astonishing 20-0 cushion during the interval.
This incredible momentum was carried on into the second period, and UL’s dynamic Briggs broke majestically down the right wing to register the fourth try just four minutes after the restart.
This effectively put the seal on Ireland’s second win of the campaign, and though the remainder of their performance was more professional than spectacular, they continued to be the dominant side and eased their way over the finishing line.
In trying to explain how this magnificent feat was achieved, Doyle pointed to the fact that they concentrated on their own game during the build-up.
They now look forward to the upcoming game against Scotland, which presents them with a shot at securing a first-ever Triple Crown.
“We analysed England really, really closely. The girls bought into this weekend, the way we were going to beat England and it has paid off. We’ve got Scotland up next, and we’re only going to think of Scotland. Yes, the Triple Crown, it’s somewhere we’ve never been before in our lives in the history of women’s rugby in Ireland. It’s a fantastic position to be in.”