Ireland women bounce back with convincing win over Italy

After last week’s defeat to France Adam Griggs’ side weren’t perfect but got the win

Ireland’s Magan Williams is tackled by Sofia Stefan of Italy during their Six Nations clash. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Ireland’s Magan Williams is tackled by Sofia Stefan of Italy during their Six Nations clash. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

 

Ireland 21 Italy 8

Ireland never looked like losing. But throughout the match they drew pressure on themselves as handling errors built up and Italy stayed the pace. Coach Adam Griggs had spoken about execution when they lost to France last week. He will be saying something similar again as Ireland insisted on fumbling or missing passes just as they had the Italians at their mercy.

But three tries and a late concession to Italy in the final play of the game gave Ireland some momentum going into the third game with Wales.

“I think we played the more expansive game but execution let us down,” said player of the match Irish flanker Claire Molloy.

“We are disappointed that we conceded a try at the end. At times our handling really let us down. That’s what we go off and work on before we face Wales in the next match.”

Converted fullback Niamh Briggs knocked on when Sene Naoupu put her into a try scoring position on 64 minutes but the mounting fumbles were not confined to the outhalf.

In the opening stages it was Molloy and left wing Allison Miller who looked like they could open up Italy. But after Miller’s scything run from her own half after just four minutes ended in a nasty compound fracture of her ankle, Ireland were missing a cutting edge.

Ireland’s Alison Miller goes off injured after fracturing her ankle. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Ireland’s Alison Miller goes off injured after fracturing her ankle. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Although the tries came later, it was the opening 20 minutes and final 20 minutes where Ireland enjoyed much of their positive play going through phases and snappy Irish scrumhalf Ailsa Hughes keeping the forward tempo moving.

It was a quick tap penalty from Hughes that led to Ireland’s opening score, her initiative sending the Italians scrambling in defence. As bodies went in under the posts the ball was fed left with Naoupu finding Megan Williams on the right wing for a clear run in and 7-0.

That was as good as it got for Ireland in the opening 40 minutes with errors knocking them back each time they built momentum.

Outhalf Briggs knocked on a few times, flanker Anna Caplice as well. As a result Italy spent a lot of the second quarter playing scrappy in Ireland’s half.

They didn’t look like crossing the Irish whitewash but Italy were forcing errors out of the Irish defence, finally earning a late penalty under the posts for Michela Sillari to kick. That sent the sides into the break at 7-3 and Italy still in the match.

But on 67 minutes prop Lindsay Peat made hard yards after a five metre scrum with captain Ciara Griffin picking and dotting the first of her two tries for 14-3. Ten minutes later Ireland again pushed directly from their solid scrum, Griffin again snapping down to take the score before Italy earned their consolation try, loosehead prop Eleonora Ricci muscling her way in.

A good win, a sound scrum although three lineouts went astray with Ireland looking like a work in progress rather than a finished article. The word on coach Griggs lips afterwards? “Handling errors.”

Scoring sequence – 10 mins M Williams try, N Brigg con 7-0; 40 mins M Sillari pen 7-3. Halftime.67 mins C Griffin try, Briggs con 14-3; C Griffin try, Briggs con 21-3; E Eleanora try 21-8.

IRELAND: K Flood (Railway Union/Leinster); M Williams (Old Belvedere/Leinster), K Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster), S Naoupu (Old Belvedere/Leinster), A Miller (Old Belvedere/Connacht); N Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster), A Hughes (Railway Union/Leinster); L Peat (Railway Union/Leinster), C Moloney (Railway Union/Leinster), F Reidy (UL Bohemians/Munster), P Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s/Leinster), N Fryday (Tullamore/Connacht), Anna Caplice (UL Bohemians/Munster), C Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), C Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt).

Replacements: C McLaughlin (Cooke/Ulster) for Miller 4 mins; M Claffey (Blackrock/Leinster) for Naoupu 18 mins; Naoupu for Claffey 26 mins; N Cronin (UL Bohemians/Munster) for Hughes; L Lyons (Highfield/Munster) for Reidy both 50 mins; C O’Connor (Galwegians/Connacht) for Moloney 61 mins; Claffey for Briggs 77 mins; McMahon (Galwegians/Connacht) for Caplice; L Feely (Galweigians/Connacht) for Peat both 79 mins.

ITALY: M Furlan (Iniziative Villorba Rugby); S Stefan (Stade Rennais), M Sillari (Rugby Colorno), B Rigoni (Valsugana Rugby Padova), M Magatti (Rugby Monza 1949); J Busato (Iniziative Villorba Rugby), S Barattin (Iniziative Villorba Rugby) (capt); Eleonora Ricci (CRATA Coruna), M Bettoni (Stade Rennais), L Gai (Stade Rennais), V Ruzza (Valsugana Rugby Padova), G Duca (Frascati Rugby Club 2015), B Veronese (Valsugana Rugby Padova), I Locatelli (Rugby Monza 1949), I Arrighetti (Stade Rennais).

Replacements: Giada Franco (Rugby Colorno) for Ruzza 26 mins; A Muzzo for J Busato 68 mins.

Referee: Tim Baker (Hong Kong).

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