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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 15 October, 2019

Beating Italy at Aviva can set up title decider with France - Alison Miller

The Irish winger believes her team are still well placed to defend their Six Nations title.

England's Emily Scarratt tackles Alison Miller of Ireland.
England's Emily Scarratt tackles Alison Miller of Ireland.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

ALISON MILLER HAS insisted Ireland are capable of beating Italy and France to retain their hard-earned Six Nations title.

The Laois native scored a hat-trick against England during the 2013 Grand Slam run but was kept off the scoresheet at the weekend as the hosts won 17-10 at Twickenham. Saturday’s defeat was Ireland’s first in eight games. Italy are next up, at the Aviva Stadium, before a trip to the South of France to face the current table toppers.

Miller told that her side’s two yellow cards in the closing stages quelled any momentum they needed to exert to force a draw from England. “It’s not over,” she declared. “We’re in the same position as England at the end of the game so there’s a lot to play for in the next two games.”

Miller, who plays for the Ireland Sevens team, was not intimidated by facing England in front of 15,000 fans [in 82,000-seater Twickenham] but admits it was “strange” to prepare for the game while the men’s side were locked in a battle for the Triple Crown. “These are the places you want to play,” she added, “and we had great support, which was evident throughout.”

France are the only team left unbeaten but Miller, and Ireland, will be aiming to stop them in their tracks when both sides dace off in Pau on 14 March. The Italians are in town next and the reigning champions will welcome them to the Aviva Stadium, once again, after the senior mens’ clash.

Miller commented, “The defeat will motivate us more. No-one likes to lose so we’ll use it as a motivation and identify what we can work on. We’ll [then] leave that loss at that and think of it no more.

There’s nothing lost as yet. France are ahead in terms of wins but it is a very open competition. There’s so much to play for. Even though we lost we have loads of reasons to be positive. The championship is still very much attainable.”

The difference with Ireland now, as opposed to the side that narrowly lost 8-7 to France in 2012, is the growing strength-in-depth. Replacements from the bench, says Miller, do not detract from the XV one bit. She believes the increase in playing numbers is being helped no end by playing to bigger audiences and on national TV. The Italy game will also be aired on RTE Two.

Miller said, “We’re playing in the Aviva for the first time and I’d be asking all the Irish supporters from the men’s game to stay on and support us.

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Patrick McCarry

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