New-Look Ireland Get The Better Of Wales

The new-look Ireland Women's squad stepped up their preparations for the Six Nations with a 31-12 victory over Wales at Ashbourne RFC on Sunday, outscoring the visitors by five tries to two.

Published by Alison Donnelly, February 3rd, 2015

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New-Look Ireland Get The Better Of Wales

Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Sophie Spence, Ailis Egan, Niamh Briggs, Jackie Shiels, Tania Rosser; Cons: Niamh Briggs 2, Jackie Shiels

Wales: Tries: Catrin Edwards, Delyth Davies; Con: Laurie Harries


This was Ireland's first outing under new head coach Tom Tierney and Anthony Eddy, the newly-appointed Director of Sevens and Women's Rugby.

It was a welcome chance for the management team to see the girls, including a number of uncapped players, in action against international opposition with the 2015 Championship just under a fortnight away.

Speaking afterwards, Tierney admitted: "We're very pleased with areas worked on in camp since Christmas that translated onto the pitch today, both in defence and attack. Today was a big step forward in our development plan for the Six Nations."

Ireland used 28 players for this warm-up fixtures and Wales 27, as both coaches tested combinations and tried out different options with the Six Nations in mind.

Jackie Shiels had her uncapped Richmond club-mate Jade Wong alongside her in the centre for Ireland, with fellow newcomers Jeamie Deacon and Elise O'Byrne White featuring on the wings.

Galwegians' Ruth O'Reilly joined experienced duo Gillian Bourke and Ailis Egan in the front row. Behind them were Old Belvedere pair Sophie Spence and Marie Louise Reilly, while Blackrock's Katie Norris was the only uncapped member of the starting pack at blindside flanker.

Ireland's strength up front and ball-carrying ability was evident in the opening 10 minutes as a try by lock Spence, which saw her crash over under the posts, gave them an early lead.

Full-back Niamh Briggs, one of the stars of last year's World Cup, converted and she also added the extras to Egan's 20th-minute effort as the rampaging tighthead prop proved unstoppable from close range.

The home back-line, marshalled by Nora Stapleton and Larissa Muldoon at half-back, began to find holes in the Welsh defence leading up to half-time and Briggs cut through for try number three which went unconverted.

With rolling substitutions, there were plenty of changes in the second half and Ireland enhanced their 19-0 interval lead when Shiels swept through after some clever approach play in midfield. She added the conversion for good measure.

Wales got off the mark in the 52nd minute when replacement Catrin Edwards, one of their veteran campaigners, touched down and full-back Laurie Harries converted. They built further momentum off the back of an unconverted score from Delyth Davies with just over 10 minutes remaining.

However, the girls in green had the final say as a well-taken 77th minute try from replacement scrum half Tania Rosser rounded off the scoring and an encouraging 19-point triumph.

Ireland return to competitive action when they open their RBS 6 Nations run against Italy at Florence's Stadio Mario Lodigiani on Friday week (February 6). 'Fortress' Ashbourne will be the venue for their back-to-back home games against France (February 13) and England (February 27).

IRELAND WOMEN: Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster); Jeamie Deacon (Blackrock/Leinster), Jade Wong (Richmond/Exile), Jackie Shiels (Richmond/Exile), Elise O'Byrne White (Old Belvedere/Leinster); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Larissa Muldoon (Skewen/Exile); Ruth O'Reilly (Galwegians/Connacht), Gillian Bourke (Olympico de Pozuelo/Selección de Madrid), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Katie Norris (Blackrock/Leinster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary's/Leinster).

Replacements: Sarah Mimnagh (Wasps/Exile), Emma Dunne (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Fiona O'Brien (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Orla Fitzsimons (St. Mary's/Leinster), Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht), Tania Rosser (Blackrock/Leinster), Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster), Megan Williams (St. Mary's/Exile), Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Sevens), Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Sevens), Aoife Doyle (Shannon/Munster).

WALES WOMEN: Laurie Harries; Ffion Bowen, Adi Tavener, Robyn Wilkins, Elen Evans; Elinor Snowsill, Amy Day; Caryl Thomas, Carys Phillips, Amy Evans, Jenny Hawkins, Rebecca Rowe, Sioned Harries, Shona Powell Hughes, Rachel Taylor.

Replacements: Amy Lawrence, Delyth Davies, Jenny Davies, Catrin Edwards, Mel Clay, Sian Williams, Kiera Bevan, Hannah Jones, Kerin Lake, Gemma Rowland, Dyddgu Hywel, Rafiuke Taylor