Ireland come out on top in Women’s World Cup opener
Philip Doyle side’s win bruising clash against USA 23-17 in Paris
Ireland’s Niamh Briggs stretches to score a try in the Women’s World Cup Pool B game against the USA at Marcoussis in Paris. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Ireland 23 USA 17
Ireland got off to a dream start at the Women’s Rugby World Cup in France after coming out the right end of a bruising encounter with the USA at Marcoussis near Paris.
Ireland survived a physical onslaught from the Americans for the concession of just one early try and they responded in kind with first-half scores from Ailís Egan and Niamh Briggs.
Briggs finished with 18 points in total as Philip Doyle’s side closed out a 23-17 win against a side ranked two places above them in the world.
After an early Briggs penalty, the Americans came back powerfully with Lynelle Kruger barging over the line.
Ireland took advantage when USA secondrow Sarah Walsh was sinbinned, however, as Egan burrowed through to help Ireland into a 13-7 lead just past the half hour.
USA responded with a penalty but, despite having flanker Claire Molloy yellow carded, Ireland conjured up a second try just before half-time. It was full back Briggs who picked up and bundled in to the right of the posts.
Her conversion gave Ireland a 20-10 cushion at the end of a frenetic and intensely fought first half.
Within two minutes of the restart though, Cameron Framer crossed for the USA and Ireland’s lead was down to three.
While the pace slowed, the hits didn’t. Ireland resisted, however, and just as they had in the first half they began inching into American territory.
Jenny Murphy made a couple of impressive line breaks after her introduction and she was held up before the line on the hour. The USA scrambled back but substitute Shaina Turley was sinbinned for going off her feet.
Briggs’s penalty made it 23-17 and that was how it stayed. Next up on Tuesday in Pool B is a crunch encounter against defending world champions New Zealand, who beat Kazakhstan 79-5 in the other group game.
IRELAND: N Briggs; A Baxter, L Cantwell, G Davitt, A Miller; N Stapleton, T Rosser; F Coghlan (capt), G Bourke, A Egan; S Spence, M L Reilly; S Fleming, C Molloy, H O’Brien.
Replacements: P Fitzpatrick for Fleming (56 mins); J Murphy for Davitt (57 mins); L Guest for Spence (74 mins), L Muldoon for Rosser (75 mins). Not used: S Lynch, F Hayes, J Shiels.
USA: M Bizer; V McGee, A Baravilala, E Bydwell, S Anderson; K Rozier, J Tseng; H Rogers, K Augustyn, J Burke; C Farmer, S Walsh; J Potter, L Kruger, K Daley (capt).
Replacements: S Chobot for Burke, S Turley for Kugler (both 53 mins); S Blaney for Walsh (56 mins); K Wagner for Augustyn (58 mins); D Owsiany for Tseng (68 mins); S Wilson for Rogers (72 mins).
Referee: S Turnbull (Canada)