Ireland Women's head coach Adam Griggs. Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ireland 'starting to buy into how good we could potentially be' just in time for England showdown

Adam Griggs’ side sit top of the Women’s Six Nations table after yesterday’s bonus-point win over Wales.

“I’LL SMILE FOR now,” Adam Griggs grinned as the post-match interview came to a close and the Ireland head coach was reminded that his side were top of the 2020 Women’s Six Nations table. “I might take a screenshot of it!”

While their position at the summit was helped by the fact that reigning champions — and Ireland’s next opposition — England saw their clash with Scotland fall foul to Storm Ciara, Griggs’ side braved the truly awful elements to record a 31-12 bonus-point win over Wales, and make it two wins from two on home soil.

It’s a very different sight to the Six Nations table last year, where Ireland endured a miserable campaign and recorded their worst finish in 13 years. They won just one game from five.

After two games this year, they’ve already collected more points. Yesterday’s massive result added to their opening-round 18-14 win over Scotland.

“We targeted home wins this year and we’ve got two of those ticked off, which is great,” Griggs stated afterwards, in high spirits after securing back-to-back Test match wins for the first time since February 2018.

“I think we made a step up from last week and that’s all you can really ask for as a coach. We showed that 15, 20-minute period last week where we were really good and we spoke about being focused and remaining on task this week, trying to force teams under more pressure and I think for the most part, we did that.”

“We were a bit scrappy in our warm up and it showed in the first 10 minutes, to be honest,” the Kiwi conceded. “We were just that little bit slower to start.

“The moment from Beibhinn [Parsons] scoring that try kicked us back into gear, where we realised we’re a good team when we’re on the front foot and when we can play rugby.

kathryn-dane-as-robyn-wilkins-kicks-the-ball-clear A general view of the match. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“It took us that moment to happen but I’m pleased that we continued it and actually kept Wales under pressure. 

I’m just really delighted that the girls are starting to see it for themselves. We’ve always had belief but it’s hard when you’re not getting results. Now that we’ve got a couple of good results I think the girls are starting to buy into how good we could potentially be. 

That aforementioned 17th-minute try from 18-year-old Connacht star Parsons, and three more from Player of the Match Cliodhna Moloney, Lauren Delany and Linda Djougang secured the bonus-point win just after half-time.

Further points from out-half Claire Keohane and a penalty try at the death put the cherry on top of Ireland’s confidence-boosting victory in dreadful conditions. 

And Griggs was more than pleased with his side’s resolve and game management through the challenge.

I think it was probably the best I’ve seen us manage a game, to be honest. In the last couple of years, we’ve always shown glimpses of how good we can be but then we might make a mistake and we allow other teams back into the game.

“Even when that rain and hail came, the girls just knuckled down. They made sure that we tightened up, we weren’t going to do anything stupid. Obviously it was going to be hard with the handling, but for the most part, I thought it was a really, really satisfying way for us to see the game out.

sene-naoupu-celebrates-with-her-teammates-after-the-game Ireland's Sene Naoupu celebrates with her teammates after the game. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“It shows that we’re growing as a team. It’s not always going to be front-foot football, giving it to Beibhinns and Lindas and scoring tries, you’re going to have to dig in — and no more so than the challenge we face against England in a few weeks’ time.”

No better way to do so though, he agrees. While Ireland lost 51-7 last year, they travel to Castle Park, Doncaster, on 23 February buoyed by winning two-in-a-row. They’re a more settled outfit now, and as Griggs says, they’ve grown in belief.

“I know England and Scotland was postponed today, so I don’t know if they’re going to play that next week,” he noted. We might have to catch them two games in-a-row.

We certainly will take the break next week, we’ll be in camp but look, I just think with that confidence, we’ve got nothing to lose. They’re second in the world, they’ve won the Grand Slam, they’ve done it all. What’s there for us to lose?

“We’ve got to go play, put them under pressure and try and show that we can compete with the best.”

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