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Dublin: 7 °C Friday 15 November, 2019
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Heartbreak at the death as the wait for Ireland's first November Test win goes on

A last-gasp try saw Wales edge the entertaining clash in Belfield.

Ireland Women 13

Wales Women 15

AND SO, THE wait for a first November Test win goes on.

eimear-considine-with-courtney-keight-and-paige-randall Eimear Considine impressed for Ireland.

13-10 up with the clock red, it looked like today was going to be the day as Ireland showed real improvement at the UCD Bowl, but familiar rivals Wales broke their hearts with a last-gasp try on a chilly afternoon at Belfield.

There were plenty of positives for Adam Griggs’ side across the board, and often, glimpses of brilliance — but all of that was cancelled out by Welsh replacement scrum-half Keira Bevan at the death.

Tries either side of the break from Linda Djougang and Enya Breen had the hosts in good stead, along with the brilliance of Player of the Match Eimear Considine and captain Ciara Griffin, but ultimately the result was all too familiar.  

After training camps in Scotland and France, this was a chance for Ireland to measure their early season progress and overwrite the disappointment their worst Six Nations finish in 13 years.

It was a miserable campaign in which they mustered up just one win and finished fifth. In their Six Nations meeting, Wales were 24-5 winners in Cardiff. In the 2017 and 2018 editions, Ireland came out on top, while the Welsh heaped misery on the 2017 World Cup hosts in the 7th/8th place play-off.

Griggs named one uncapped player in his starting XV — talented Leinster 19-year-old and former Meath minor football captain Judy Bobbett — and handed more debuts from the bench on a positive afternoon in that sense.

A year on from international debut, Ellen Murphy made her first start at 10, and was a leading light throughout, despite some place-kicking mishaps.

Ireland started really well on home soil, captain fantastic Ciara Griffin leading the charge as the hosts settled in and found their feet. 17-year-old Ballinasloe starlet Beibhinn Parsons was lively in her second international start, while debutant Bobbett was instrumental throughout.

ireland-fans-at-the-game Fans supporting Bobbett. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Referee Rebecca Mahoney, a two-time World Cup-winning Black Fern did her utmost to let the game flow, but Ireland were awarded several early penalties. Each time, Murphy looked to touch, trusting the lineout there as a promising platform. 

It soon paid dividends, as Ireland, off the back of it, kept their composure through the phases with some strong, threatening carries. It looked like they could have had the dream start nine minutes in until Wales turned them over. Fear not, though, Griffin — who was nothing short of inspirational on the turnover front — stole again, before there was an unfortunate knock-on.

The ever-impressive Elinor Snowsill lifted the visitors, but Ireland were most definitely winning the territorial battle early on on this cold November afternoon. 

The deadlock was broken in the 18th minute, and it was Leinster prop Djoungang who grabbed her first international try. Ironically, it all came off the back of a poor scrum from the hosts — but they managed a really promising break. 

The electric pace of full-back Considine tore the Welsh defence asunder, but the former Clare dual star was held up just under the posts. Ireland’s persistence paid off as Cameroon-born Djoungang eventually crashed over to the joy of those packed into the UCD Bowl.

Murphy failed to add the extras, and Wales responded immediately as they entered the Ireland 22 for the first time in the 21st minute. The hosts showed brilliant discipline off the back of a lineout, Anna Caplice at the heart of a huge turnover as they successfully cleared their lines.

A scrum-heavy few minutes followed. There were moments of sheer brilliance, but also some disappointing errors from both camps, but as the action went on, Wales looked more dangerous. 

The vocal travelling crowd spurred them on, while Griggs’ side kept them out. Considine continued to threaten, as the industrious Cronin was nearly in again as the break neared, but Kelsey Jones stopped her.

linda-djougang-scores-a-try-despite-alecs-donovan Celebrating Djougang's first-half try. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Murphy and Sene Naoupu combined nicely as Ireland hoped to finish the half on a high. But Wales had other plans, threatening time and time again, fingertips away from making the crucial break. Scarlets’ Alex Callender nearly did just that, but a knock-on hampered her progress.

The second half opened at a blistering pace. Wales set the tone, coming out really strong, but it was Ireland who bagged the first points. UL Bohemians’ Enya Breen completed a lovely team try on the overlap, building on excellent work from Considine and Murphy.

The latter’s conversion tailed just wide, as Robyn Wilkins was on target with a place kick at the other end through a 46th-minute penalty. 

With their first points on the board, the Welsh grew in confidence and piled on the pressure through Ffion Lewis and Callender, while Considine and Cronin were stopped at the other end by Paige Randall. 

Snowsell soon produced another stunning break, and replacement Megan Webb nearly capitalised for an all-important first try but there was a knock-on as Breen simultaneously intervened.

That vital Welsh breakthrough came in the 67th minute as another replacement, Sioned Harries cantered through for a try, and Wilkins duly converted. All square, Ireland then had the perfect chance to go ahead in the 72nd minute as they earned a kickable penalty.

It was third time lucky for Murphy, who split the posts and put the hosts in the driving seat once again. Happy to run the clock down, introduce fresh legs and hand out more debuts, it looked like Ireland were set to seal a maiden November International Test win but Wales shattered their hearts after the clock turned red. 

Ireland couldn’t keep them out after the opted to go to the corner with a penalty. They won the subsequent lineout, and replacement scrum-half Keira Bevan darted over in the corner. Unconverted, but that won’t matter as the visitors head home happy.

beibhinn-parsons-with-ellinor-snowsill-and-alecs-donovan Beibhinn Parsons with Ellinor Snowsill and Alecs Donovan of Wales. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Scorers for Ireland: Tries: Linda Djoungang, Enya Breen

Conversions: Ellen Murphy [0 from 2]

Penalties: Ellen Murphy [1 from 1].

Scorers for Wales:

Tries: Sioned Harries, Keira Bevan 

Conversions: Robyn Wilkins [1 from 2]

Penalties: Robyn Wilkins [1 from 1].

IRELAND WOMEN: Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians/Munster); Lauren Delany (Firwood Waterloo Ladies/IQ Rugby), Enya Breen (UL Bohemians/Munster), Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Beibhinn Parsons (Ballinasloe/Connacht); Ellen Murphy (Gloucester-Hartpury/IQ Rugby), Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemians/Munster); Laura Feely (Galwegians/Connacht), Cliodhna Moloney (Wasps/IQ Rugby), Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Nichola Fryday (Old Belvedere/Connacht), Judy Bobbett (Blackrock/Leinster), Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt), Edel McMahon (Wasps/Connacht), Anna Caplice (Harlequins/IQ Rugby).

Replacements:

Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock/Leinster) for Bobbett (48)
Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere/Ulster) for Cronin (51)
Victoria Dabanovich-O’Mahony (Old Belvedere/Leinster) for Moloney (51)
Anne-Marie O’Hora (Galwegians/Connacht) for Feely (51)
Niamh Ni Dhroma (Old Belvedere/Leinster) for Caplice (65)
Michelle Claffey (Blackrock/Leinster) for Breen (67)

WALES WOMEN: Kayleigh Powell (Ospreys); Paige Randall (Cardiff Blues), Alecs Donovan (Ospreys), Robyn Wilkins (Cardiff Blues), Courtney Keight (Ospreys); Elinor Snowsill (Ospreys), Ffion Lewis (Scarlets); Gwenllian Pyrs (RGC), Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Natalia John (Ospreys), Gwen Crabb (Ospreys), Alex Callender (Scarlets), Bethan Lewis (Scarlets), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys) (capt).

Replacements: 

Keira Bevan (Ospreys) for Lewis (52)
Robyn Lock (Ospreys) for Callender (58)
Megan Webb (Cardiff Blues) for Donovan (58)
Sioned Harries (Scarlets) for John (63)
Carys Phillips (Ospreys) for Jones (70)
Cerys Hale (Cardiff Blues) for Evans (70)
Rebekah O’Loughlin (Cardiff Blues) for Randall (76)

Referee: Rebecca Mahoney (New Zealand).

We thought there might be a post-World Cup comedown, but then Saracens went and Saracened. Andy Dunne joins Sean Farrell and Gavan Casey as the pod segues from the international to club season.


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About the author:

Emma Duffy  / Reports from the UCD Bowl

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