Jenny Murphy’s last-ditch try helps Ireland dodge bullet

Tom Tierney’s side relieved to gain maximum points after error-strewn display

Ireland’s Jenny Murphy celebrates scoring the winning try during the Women’s Six Nations game against Scotland at Broadwood Stadium in Cumbernauld. Photograph:  Craig Watson/Inpho

Ireland’s Jenny Murphy celebrates scoring the winning try during the Women’s Six Nations game against Scotland at Broadwood Stadium in Cumbernauld. Photograph: Craig Watson/Inpho

 

Scotland 15 Ireland 22

Well, that should dampen expectations. Under a constant downpour in icy conditions Ireland escaped, and there is no other word for it, thanks to the latest possible try by Jenny Murphy. And, remarkably, they also secured a bonus-point victory.

“I’ve played in games like that where anything that could go wrong does go wrong,” said Ireland coach Tom Tierney, who won eight caps himself including in the 1999 World Cup. “But to still come out with five points is slightly embarrassing. We’ll take that. Huge improvement needed next week because if we play like that in Italy we will come away with nothing.”

Murphy, absent from the Irish midfield for almost two years due to injury, ran the first straight line of the match in a truly abysmal Irish performance to power under the crossbar well after the 80 minute mark. That was enough to see off a wasteful and inaccurate Scottish side.

Briggs, still nursing hamstring problems, is some way off a return and the lack of a place-kicker or anyone capable of finding her distance with the boot heaped enormous pressure on the Irish defence. “Especially between our 22 and the halfway line we were bogged down there,” Tierney conceded.

Add that to an inability to put more than three phrases together, before dropping the ball, and really their championship aspirations should no longer exist. But Scotland could not make them pay. Initially they used number eight Jade Konkel, the SRU’s first and seemingly only professional female player, to good use. Konkel exposed some weak close in Irish defending with a try after four minutes that was mirrored when she crossed again in the 30th minute.

Sarah Law’s penalty seven minutes later gave the Scots a 15-10 half-time lead.

Strong run

Ireland, led in Briggs’ absence by the industrious Paula Fitzpatrick, had crossed for two tries after Sene Naoupu, now playing her rugby in England after husband George left Connacht for Harlequins, finished off a strong run by Ali Miller. The Laois winger crossed the line herself on 22 minutes after a fine pass by debut scrumhalf Ailsa Hughes.

Both scores were finished in the left corner so Nora Stapleton struggled to find the necessary distance off the tee.

One obvious bright spark was Hughes. The Railway Union scrumhalf’s range of passing should continue to bring a new dimension to the Irish attack. The pack got their act together with a lineout drive on 51 minutes allowing Lindsay Peat to level matters during a period that also saw Konkel sin-binned.

Ireland failed to capitalise on the numerical advantage. But Scotland, with Law and then outhalf Helen Nelson missing simple enough penalties, failed to put the game out of Ireland’s reach. Somehow, from what looked like resilience alone, memory muscle even, they found a way, via Murphy, to win. “We didn’t make it easy for ourselves but we came away with the five points so that box is ticked,” said a very relieved Murphy.

Some more positivity was that Sophie Spence, like Briggs a former nominee for world player of the year, might make a long-awaited return from injury against Italy. “Fingers crossed,” added Tierney, “Hopefully next week.”

This team needs a dramatic improvement that in some quarters only Spence and Briggs can supply.

SCOTLAND: C Rollie; M Gaffney, L Thomson, L Martin, R Lloyd; H Nelson, S Law; T Balmer, R Malcolm, L Smith; E Wassell, D McCormack; K Dunbar, L McMillan, J Konkel.

Replacements: L Park for R Malcolm (37 mins), K Dougan for L Smith (60-62 mins), J Maxwell for S Law, S Bonar for E Wassell (all 62 mins), H Lockhart for T Balmer (66 mins).

IRELAND: M Coyne; N Kavanagh, J Murphy, S Naoupu, A Miller; N Stapleton, A Hughes; L Peat, L Lyons, A Egan; O Fitzsimons, M-L Reilly; C Griffin, C Molloy, P Fitzpatrick (capt).

Replacements: E Considine for N Kavanagh, E Anthony for O Fitzsimons (both half-time), M Healy for A Hughes (68 mins), J Finlay for L Lyons, I van Staden for L Peat, C O’Connor for A Egan (all 71 mins).

Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron (South Africa).

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.