Ireland women run in five tries in Italian shutout
Historic win at Aviva Stadium keeps championship hopes alive
Ireland replacement Jenny Murphy stretches out to score her side’s fifth try in the 39-0 victory over Italy in Saturday’s Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Ireland 39 Italy 0: The Ireland women latched on to the mood of celebration on their Aviva Stadium debut to score a five-try shutout to keep alive their hopes of winning the Six Nations Championship.
Playing at the stadium for the first time, Philip Doyle’s side were full of running and plenty of invention as they deal with the physical challenge of Italy with a cracking performance.
Ireland built slowly with two penalties from fullback Niamh Briggs giving them the advantage on the scoreboard.
Ireland’s backrow were outstanding all night and openside Claire Molloy opened the try-scoring account when she danced through the Italian defence to touch down after fine work from Nora Stapleton and lively prop Gillian Bourke.
Briggs converted and Ireland weren’t finished with their first-half scoring with centre Lynne Cantwell sliding through the Italian defence to grab a try. Briggs’s conversion left Ireland in control at the break at 20-0.
But there was to be no let-up as Ireland chased points to increase their positive differential.
Alison Miller capped a brilliant outing on the left wing with Ireland’s third try and with the Italian defence fading Ireland were able to add to their tally with scores from number eight Heather O’Brien and replacement Jenny Murphy
The result puts Ireland top of the table on points difference from England, with France expected to win away to Scotland tomorrow.
As things stand, Ireland are plus-99 to England’s plus-90, with France on plus-68 ahead of the Scottish game. Ireland travel away to play France in their final game next Friday, with England away to Italy on Sunday week.
IRELAND: Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster); Ashleigh Baxter (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Lynne Cantwell (Richmond/Exile), Grace Davitt (Cooke/Ulster), Alison Miller (Portlaoise/UCC/Connacht); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Amy Davis (Blackrock/Ulster); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster) (capt), Stacey-Lea Kennedy (Cooke/Ulster), Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians/Munster); Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster); Siobhan Fleming (Tralee/Munster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Heather O’Brien (Highfield/Munster).
Replacements: Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) for Bourke (50 mins), Paula Fitzpatrick (St Mary’s/Leinster) for Fleming, Larissa Muldoon (Bristol/Exile) for Davis (both 60 mins), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster) for Cantwell (63 mins), Hannah Casey (Saracens/Exiles) for Miller, Jackie Shiels (Richmond/Exile) for Briggs (both 69 mins), Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster) for Kennedy, Kerrie-Ann Craddock (Saracens/Exile) for Coghlan (both 76 mins).
ITALY: Manuela Furlan (Benetton Treviso); Maria Diletta Veronese (Valsugana Rugby Padova), Michela Sillari (Rugby Colorno), Beatrice Rigoni (Valsugana Padova), Maria Grazia Cioffi (Rugby Benevento); Veronica Schiavon (Sitam Riviera del Brenta), Sara Barattin (Rugby Casale); Marta Ferrari (Rennes), Melissa Bettoni (Rugby Red Blu), Awa Coulibaly (Rennes); Cristina Molic (Sitam Riviera del Brenta), Alice Trevisan (Sitam Riviera del Brenta); Michela Este (Benetton Treviso), Ilaria Arrighetti (Rugby Monza), Silvia Gaudino (Rugby Monza) (capt).
Replacements: Sofia Stefan (Rennes) for Veronese (61 mins), Lucia Cammarano (Rugby Monza) for Ferrari (64 mins), Debora Ballarini (Sitam Riviera del Brenta) for Coulibaly, Elisa Giordano (Valsugana Padova) for Arrighetti (both 69 mins), Maria Magatti (Rugby Monza) for Sillari (70 mins), Irene Campanini (Rugby Colorno) for Bettoni, Alessia Pantarotto (Sitam Riviera del Brenta) for Trevisan, Monica Bruno (CUS Torino Rugby) for Rigoni (all 77 mins).