Ireland Women 14
Wales Women 6
IT WAS LESS emphatic that their opening day victory against Scotland, but a 61st minute try from the influential Heather O’Brien nevertheless kept Ireland’s hopes of recording back-to-back Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam titles very much alive in a blustery Ashbourne last night.
Having weathered an early Irish storm, Wales settled to take the lead courtesy of a 17th minute penalty by Llandaff north centre Robyn Wilkins, before another successful three-pointer by the reliable No. 13 eight minutes later helped the visitors to develop a six-point platform.
Owing to the wet and windy conditions in the Meath venue, Ireland were struggling to execute their customary brand of attacking rugby, but they finally managed to reap some form of reward for their endeavours thanks to an expertly-converted 39th minute place-kick by returning full-back Niamh Briggs.
With just three points (6-3) separating the teams at the break, it was very much game on for Ireland upon the resumption, and just ten minutes into the second half, Briggs cancelled out the Welsh lead with a second routine close-range penalty.
The pivotal moment of the game then arrived just past the hour mark, when a scrum close to the Welsh line provided Ireland with an ideal platform to score their first try, and Munster No 8 Heather O’Brien displayed great initiative to gather the loose possession, before driving over forcefully in the right-corner.
UL Bohs star Briggs was wide of the mark from a tricky bonus kick, but with Wales showing little sign of attacking intent in the second period, Ireland were never in danger of letting their lead slip, and when Briggs superbly split the posts from the 22-metre-line deep into stoppage time, their seventh consecutive Six Nations victory was secured.
Ireland Women Scorers:
Tries: H O’Brien
Penalties: N Briggs 3
Wales Women Scorers:
Penalties: R Wilkins 2
Ireland Women: Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster); Hannah Casey (Saracens/Exile), Lynne Cantwell (Richmond /Exile), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Alison Miller (Portlaoise/UCC/Connacht); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Larissa Muldoon (Bristol/Exile); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster) (capt), Stacey-Lea Kennedy (Cooke/Ulster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), 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: Gill Bourke (UL Bohemians/Munster), Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster), Kerrie-Ann Craddock (Saracens/Exile), Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s/Leinster), Amy Davis (Blackrock/Ulster), Ashleigh Baxter (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Grace Davitt (Cooke/Ulster), Jackie Shiels (Richmond/Exile).
Elen Evans and Niamh Briggs clash. INPHO/Donall Farmer
Wales Women: Dyddgu Hywel (Bristol); Elen Evans (Waterloo), Robyn Wilkins (Llandaff North), Rebecca de Filippo (Bristol), Philippa Tuttiett (Bristol); Elinor Snowsill (Bristol), Amy Day (Llandaff North); Megan York (Blaenau Gwent), Lowri Harries (Neath Athletic), Catrin Edwards (Bristol), Jenny Hawkins (Llandaff North), Shona Powell Hughes (Neath Athletic), Catrina Nicholas (Llandaff North), Nia Davies (Cardiff Met), Rachel Taylor (Bristol) (capt).
Replacements: Carys Phillips (Bristol), Jenny Davies (Waterloo), Caryl Thomas (Bath), Sian Williams (Worcester), Sioned Harries (Llandaff North), Sian Moore (Bristol), Laurie Harries (Llandaff North), Ffion Bowen (Maesteg Celtic).