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'This is not lost' - Ireland captain Griffin rallies for huge Italy clash

After defeat to Spain, Ireland face a crucial meeting with the hosts on Sunday.

Ireland must bounce back from defeat to Spain.
Ireland must bounce back from defeat to Spain.
Image: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

Updated Wed 8:41 AM

IRELAND WOMEN CAPTAIN Ciara Griffin has stressed that she and her team-mates still have everything to play for in their remaining two games of the 2021 World Cup Qualifier tournament in Italy.

Ireland suffered a surprise 8-7 defeat to Spain on Monday evening, meaning they now face a huge clash with hosts Italy this Sunday in Parma.

Adam Griggs’ team will then have a final fixture against Scotland the following Saturday, with the overall winner of the Qualifier tournament advancing into next year’s delayed World Cup in New Zealand.

The second-placed team from this Qualifier will have one more shot at securing a World Cup spot in the final repechage tournament against Samoa, Colombia, and an Asian side.

But Ireland will need to make huge improvements this weekend if they are to beat Italy, who recorded an impressive six-try 38-13 victory over Scotland on Monday.

While Spain were deserved winners against Ireland, it was a very poor performance from Griggs’ team despite ample training time in preparation.

“It wasn’t the result we wanted but we still got a losing bonus point, that’s something out of it,” said Griffin of the defeat. “We didn’t perform the way we wanted to perform, that’s on us and it’s fixable.

“You can’t put your head down now, there are two games left to be won, there’s still a tournament to be won. There’s no time to be sorry for ourselves.

“It’s up to us as a group to review it honestly, see what didn’t go well, why it didn’t go well, and fix it for Sunday.”

ciara-griffin Ireland captain Ciara Griffin. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Ireland had a host of problems against the Spaniards, including lineout failings, scrum free-kicks and penalties, further discipline issues, breakdown inaccuracy, and basic handling errors.

Despite the litany of shortcomings, Griffin took some pride in her side’s work-rate.

“We felt our prep was good in terms of our training but that’s just sport sometimes – things didn’t go the way we wanted,” said the Kerry woman.

“Now, hats off to Spain, they really showed up, they gave us different pictures and they really fought to get the result in the end.

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“Some things didn’t go our way in terms of our discipline needing to be better, we need to more clinical in the 22 as well – we had a lot of time in possession there and weren’t clinical as a group. Collective and individual errors lost us momentum.

“But you saw out there, every girl in that jersey fought, so that’s a sign of what’s to come.”

Ireland have beaten Italy on the last two occasions the sides have met, while Griggs’ side are certainly capable of far better performances than the one they delivered against Spain.

Griffin insisted that Ireland can still rescue this Qualifier tournament and book a spot at the World Cup despite the big setback.

“We’ve played Italy regularly in the Six Nations, they’re obviously at home so they’ll have a spring in their step and it’s up to us now to bring our best performances,” said Griffin. “We have to be clinical in our preparation.

“This is not lost, there’s a tournament left there and we’re going to do everything we can to get on that plane.”

First published today at 07.00

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