Potential of Parsons and Wall put French and English on notice
Young duo impress as Ireland breeze past Wales in Women’s Six Nations clash
Ireland’s Beibhinn Parsons goes past Elinor Snowsill of Wales during Saturday’s Six Nations victory. Photograph: Inpho
Ireland 45 Wales 0
A potential solution to hotel quarantine restrictions in the Republic of Ireland could see Saturday’s Six Nations semi-final against France moved from Donnybrook to the Kingspan stadium in Belfast.
The winner travels to England for a title decider on April 24th. The IRFU are “looking at all possible options.”
Whatever happens next, and wherever this all singing all dancing victory propels Ireland, the ‘can’t see it, can’t be it’ movement now has two bona fide poster girls.
The potential of Béibhinn Parsons and Dorothy Wall is not limitless but the pair’s dashing displays at Cardiff Arm’s Park have put the professional French and English on notice: the Irish have no interest in also-ran status.
Unfortunately, these rising stars will be curtailed by future careers away from the sport, and anyway a €28,000 contract, like what their English counterparts earn, is hardly a golden carrot.
None of that should concern the teenage winger and 20 year-old flanker after their inspirational performances following six months of inactivity.
A seven try cake walk exposed the problems afflicting the women’s game in Wales as much as it showed the value of 20 camps at the IRFU High Performance Centre during a year of continuous lockdown.
“There was a real hunger in the group,” said captain Ciara Griffin.
It took 126 seconds for fullback Eimear Considine to profit from Hannah Tyrrell’s excellence at outhalf. Tyrrell’s touchline conversion hit the post.
What came next is already the signature move of this team. A rock solid scrum near the right touchline prompted Sene Naoupu to throw a skip pass to Considine who wasted no time offloading to Parsons.
There were shades of the 1995 All Blacks bouncing the ball to their young No.11.
“Look at her,” smiled Considine. “She’s a phenomenal athlete. Why wouldn’t you want to get the ball to her? She is a nightmare to tackle, a nightmare to be up against. I am just glad she is on our team.”
Tyrrell, the left footed former Dublin goalkeeper whose wedding scheduled for last Friday was scuppered by Covid, found her range with the conversion.
“It’s been no secret we’ve been looking to nail down that position,” said Ireland coach Adam Griggs of Tyrrell’s sporting renaissance at outhalf. “You need to build your team around an anchor and Kathryn Dane and Hannah did a great job of steering us around the park.
“Hannah has that natural eye for the game, and the GAA background with the boot, putting it long when needed, or else a couple of nice grubbers. So that’s her really building confidence in her game, playing heads-up rugby. And then the beauty is we can switch her to wing or fullback when Eimear cramps up so she has that versatility for us as well, which is key.”
Unlike most of Siwan Lillicrap’s teammates, the Wales captain brought the fight to Ireland and her turnover offered outhalf Elinor Snowsill a chance to relieve constant pressure. Griffin had other ideas. The Kerry woman blocked Snowsill’s punt like a corner back before haring towards the try line. She was stopped short but a lovely cross field kick by Tyrrell found the unmarked Parsons for her second try.
It all looked so easy but there was no shortage of coaching on display. For example, new cap Eve Higgins brought her Sevens experience to the championship by catching Welsh restarts and instantly scanning for gaps in the shredded red line.
Considine banked the bonus point on 17 minutes when she exposed some embarrassingly weak defence before striding to the line unopposed.
Wales appeared to have given up. At the next water break, assistant coach Sophie Spence, the former Ireland lock, entered their huddle to offer some choice words of encouragement.
It made little difference as Naoupu claimed the fifth try following clever play by Dane off another immovable scrum.
The touchline might be out of Tyrrell’s range for the time being, but her curling conversions kept the scoreboard ticking towards the 53 points France put on Warren Abrahams hapless side in round one.
Ireland struggled to maintain the same standards after half-time but their offloading game, with Aoife McDermott and Lindsay Peat showing their basketball skills, did leave them open to an array of handling errors.
The third quarter was a reminder how easily Ireland can revert to a nervy, fumbling outfit but Stacey Flood and Emily Lane - both on debut - can be happy with the energy they brought at half back as Adam Griggs sought to reinvigorate a game that temporarily lost its way. Katie O’Dwyer and Brittany Hogan also came into the front five as the scrum continued to destroy the Welsh pack.
In truth, the second 40 minutes was a mess until Wall’s 24th charge of the match yielded a sixth try late on.
“She’s only getting better,” said Griggs on the powerful Tipperary flanker. “She was phenomenal. In defence, she hits hard and finishes tackles off. And then, she can carry too. There are still some subtleties she can work on in terms of her handling and the option of when to give passes.”
Tyrrell ensured that Ireland finished with a flourish, which she also converted, but the drop in intensity gives Griggs plenty of avenues to examine before the players come back into camp this week.
Fingers crossed that the IRFU, FFR and respective governments can ensure that there is a game.
Scoring sequence - 2 mins: E Considine try, 5-0; 10 mins: B Parsons try, 10-0; H Tyrrell con, 12-0; 13 mins: B Parsons try, 17-0; 17 mins: E Considine try, 22-0; H Tyrrell con, 24-0; S Naoupu try, 29-0; H Tyrrell con, 31-0. Half-time. 71 mins: D Wall try, 36-0, H Tyrrell con, 38-0; 80 mins: H Tyrrell try, 43-0; H Tyrrell con, 45-0.
IRELAND: Eimear Considine; Lauren Delany, Eve Higgins, Sene Naoupu, Béibhinn Parsons; Hannah Tyrrell, Kathryn Dane; Lindsay Peat, Cliodhna Moloney, Linda Djougang; Aoife McDermott, Nichola Fryday; Dorothy Wall, Claire Molloy, Ciara Griffin (capt).
Replacements: Stacey Flood for L Delany (53 mins), Katie O’Dwyer for L Peat, Brittany Hogan for N Fryday (both 57 mins), Enya Breen for E Considine, Hannah O’Connor for C Griffin, Emily Lane for K Dane (all 62 mins), Neve Jones for C Moloney, Laura Feely for L Djougang (both 69 mins).
WALES: Robyn Wilkins; Lisa Neumann, Hannah Jones, Kerin Lake, Courtney Keight; Elinor Snowsill, Jess Roberts; Cara Hope, Kelsey Jones, Cerys Hales; Natalia John, Gwen Crabb; Georgia Evans, Manon Johnes, Siwan Lillicrap (capt).
Replacements: Caitlin Lewis for C Keight (32 mins), Molly Kelly for K Jones (39 mins), Caryl Thomas for C Hope, Donna Rose for C Hales, Niamh Terri for K Lake (all half-time), Bethan Dainton for M Johnes (56 mins), Megan Davies for S Lillicrap (75 mins).
Referee: Hollie Davidson (Scotland)