Ireland unchanged for crucial Scotland clash

Griggs sticks with same XV that recorded victory over Italy

Ireland line up against Italy last week: ‘The focus for us really is on just winning this game. The ramifications and permutations of the table will obviously be out of our control around that first game,” said Griggs. Photograph: Giuseppe Fama/Inpho

Ireland line up against Italy last week: ‘The focus for us really is on just winning this game. The ramifications and permutations of the table will obviously be out of our control around that first game,” said Griggs. Photograph: Giuseppe Fama/Inpho

 

Ireland women’s head coach Adam Griggs said he is “rewarding the performance” after selecting an unchanged starting line-up for his side’s crunch World Cup qualification encounter against Scotland at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma this evening (kick-off 5pm Irish time).

Having previously made four alterations in the aftermath of a shock opening day reversal to Spain, the New Zealander – whose home country will be the hosts of next year’s delayed finals – has kept faith with this same 15 that defeated Italy last Sunday in the second round of this European qualifier tournament.

“I think the team that we had last week came out and performed. They did the job we asked. Over the last couple of Six Nations, and into this tournament, we’ve worked hard on having some consistency with the spine of our team,” Griggs explained at a pre-game press conference.

“You’ve got to reward the performance. We asked for a victory and a solid defensive effort. For the most part those players gave us that.”

Heading into the final day of fixtures, all four teams in this tournament find themselves on five points each (Ireland are currently second behind table-toppers Italy) and in contention for a top-two finish. The latter will either grant a team an automatic spot at next year’s finals or a second chance at a forthcoming repechage tournament.

Following the conclusion of the earlier kick-off between Italy and Spain, Ireland will have a clearer picture of what they need to do against Scotland to keep their hopes alive.

Nevertheless, Griggs insists the approach he and his squad have spoken about in the days leading up to today’s contest will remain the same regardless of how the curtain-raiser in Parma transpires.

“The focus for us really is on just winning this game. The ramifications and permutations of the table will obviously be out of our control around that first game,” Griggs added.

Right side

“Either way that will put us in the conversation of qualifying. As we know, that first game will happen before we even start to warm-up. We’ll have a good idea, but I think our real message has been ‘we have to go and win this game, first and foremost’.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a 50-51 scoreline. If we’re not on the right side of that scoreline, it doesn’t matter what happens. It’s really about going out and getting a victory this weekend.”

While the starting 15 remains intact, an injury to Enya Breen sees Lucy Mulhall named on the bench alongside the evergreen duo of Lindsay Peat and Claire Molloy.

When Ireland last faced Scotland in a competitive game – a Six Nations showdown in Dublin on February 2, 2020 – it took a monumental effort for them to secure an 18-14 triumph.

After getting their qualification hopes back on track with a second-round win at Spain’s expense, Bryan Easson’s charges are expected to pose a similar challenge in the latest meeting of the two sides.

IRELAND: E Considine; A-L Murphy Crowe, E Higgins, S Naoupu, B Parsons; S Flood, K Dane; L Feely, C Moloney, L Djougang; N Fryday, S Monaghan; D Wall, E McMahon, C Griffin. Replacements: N Jones, L Peat, L Lyons, B Hogan, C Molloy, E Lane, L Mulhall, L Delany.

SCOTLAND (probable): C Rollie; R Lloyd, H Smith, L Thomson, M Gaffney; H Nelson, J Maxwell; L Bartlett, L Skeldon, C Belisle, E Wassell, L McMillan, R McLachlan, R Malcolm (captain), J Konkel. Replacements: M Wright, L Cockburn, K Dougan, S Cattigan, E Gallagher, M McDonald, S Law, A Evans.

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