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Dublin: 3°C Thursday 26 November 2020
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Five-try Ireland get the better of Wales and Storm Ciara to go two from two in Six Nations

A brilliant result for Adam Griggs’ side, who go top of the table.

Ireland 31
Wales 12

ON A DAY where several games fell foul to Storm Ciara, Ireland braved the blustery gales and sweeping rain at Donnybrook as they made it two wins from two in the 2020 Women’s Six Nations.

linda-djougang-celebrates-scoring-a-try-with-eimear-considine-and-sene-naoupu All smiles before the worst of the storm hit. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

18-year-old Connacht star Beibhinn Parsons continued her fine try-scoring form after a slow start from the hosts, while Player of the Match Cliodhna Moloney, Lauren Delaney and Linda Djougang secured the confidence-boosting bonus-point win just after half-time.

And a penalty try with the last action of the game put the cherry on top for Ireland, in horrendous conditions.

After an opening 18-14 win over Scotland, Adam Griggs’ side were eyeing back-to-back victories as they target three wins from three on home soil. Familiar foes Wales, on the other hand, were on a revenge mission after losing to Italy last time out.

Ireland and Wales met twice in the off-season: Wales came out on top, albeit at the death, in their November Test at Belfield, while Ireland triumphed behind closed doors across the water in January.

Last spring, Wales were 24-5 winners in Cardiff, delivering the final blow for Ireland’s worst Six Nations finish in 13 years. Their only win of that campaign came against Scotland, meaning until today, they had been the only nation Ireland beat in a Test match since Wales in February 2018.

It was an Ireland team which showed three changes in personnel to last Sunday due to injury struggles: accomplished Sevens player Claire Keohane was handed her first start at out-half after earning her first 15s cap against Scotland, Leinster teenager Judy Bobbett was in for a Six Nations debut, while Eimear Considine returned from injury in a welcome boost.

But early on, it was all Wales — a stark contrast to last week. Ireland were on the back foot from the first kick, and that Welsh pressure intensified after an early knock-on. To the hosts’ credit, they did win first scrum after Edel McMahon stopped up with an excellent steal.

kathryn-dane-as-robyn-wilkins-of-wales-kicks-the-ball-clear Worsened conditions. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

beibhinn-parsons-makes-a-break Another good day for Beibhinn Parsons. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Griggs’ side found their feet more and more with Lauren Delany impressing, but Robyn Wilkins was pulling the strings at 10 for Wales. In the sixth minute, she kicked to the corner and her side looked home and hosed but Ireland won a brilliant lineout maul penalty.

The hosts’ problem was they couldn’t keep possession, while they continued to concede penalties. A stunning Delany intercept lifted spirits in the ninth minute as Ireland’s defence upped the ante with some big hits, and the crucial breakthrough soon came.

Returning full-back Considine led her troops into the Welsh half for the first time with a booming kick — helped by the inscrutable wind — on 15 minutes, and the visitors experienced pressure of their own for the first time.

An attempt clearance on the left hand-side almost stopped dead in the air, such was the power of that gust of wind, and Leaving Cert student Parsons pounced. She found a gap and danced to the line, showing some lovely footwork, before planting for Ireland’s first try in the 17th minute.

Keohane’s first conversion assignment was a testing one given the conditions, and the Cork woman’s effort fell just short. From there, Ireland got more of a foothold on proceedings with Moloney crashing over in the 26th minute after working through the phases and being played through by Sene Naoupu. It was second time lucky then, as Keohane added the extras.

12-0 up and buoyed by a really positive period of play, Delany dotted down Ireland’s third try on 32 minutes. Considine created the opening with a stunning offload, and Firwood Waterloo wing Delany powered through, also showing some beautiful footwork for the superb breakaway try.

As Keohane’s effort at the posts was swept away by the wind, referee Aimee Barrett-Theron checked the TMO for an illegal Welsh tackle on Ciara Griffin in the build-up. Gwenllian Pyrs was shown yellow, but Wales’ reduction to 14 women only sparked them to life.

After a period of sustained pressure, Kiera Bevan — the Ospreys star who broke Irish hearts in November — was denied a try by Considine, but her full-back counterpart Lauren Smyth eventually got over on the stroke of half time. Wilkins’ conversion attempt was sent off-track by the wind, leaving the scoreline 17-5 at the break.

On the restart, Ireland secured the winning bonus-point as Cameroon-born prop Linda Djogang powered over at the Bective End just two minutes in — a deserved reward for her first-half showing. Keohane added two more points from placed ball bringing the gap to 19, but Wales soon popped up with seven of their own.

Captain Siwan Lillicrap — who had been taken off to return once the Welsh sin bin was up  — reduced the deficit, before Wilkins added the extras this time.

Around the 50th minute, conditions took a turn as they worsened by the second and the rain and hailstones pelted down on Old Wesley. As the wind and showers fleeted from left to right, Ireland battled into it, while their Celtic cousins chased the game.

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liodhna-moloney-comes-up-against-kayleigh-powell Cliodhna Moloney was named Player of the Match. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Piercing runs from the industrious Anna Caplice and brilliant Considine kept Ireland’s momentum up as they weathered the storm, and ran on fresh legs as the latter and captain Griffin were welcomed off by huge receptions.

The same happened for Keohane after her first start, and for Lindsay Peat, while tenacious scrum-half Nicole Cronin brought an injection of energy from the bench. A nod must go to startimg scrum-half, Kathryn Dane too, whose passing was impeccable.

The storm continued to play havoc as the clock ran down, with both sides in a real battle of attrition, but Ireland — and Leinster youngster Dorothy Wall — put their foot on the pedal for a sustained period of pressure, and were rewarded with a penalty try as the last action of the game. Pushed all the way by the Donnybrook roar.

Job done, with Ireland top of the table after Storm Ciara got the better of England and Scotland’s round-two enounter. Two from two, with the all-conquering Red Roses up next.

Ireland scorers:
Tries: Beibhinn Parsons, Cliodhna Moloney, Lauren Delaney, Linda Djougang, penalty try
Conversions: Claire Keohane [2/4]
Wales scorers:
Tries: Lauren Smyth, Siwan Lillicrap
Conversions: Robyn Wilkins [1/2]

IRELAND WOMEN: Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians/Munster) [Aoife Doyle, 65]; Lauren Delany (Firwood Waterloo Ladies/IQ Rugby), Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Michelle Claffey (Blackrock/Leinster), Beibhinn Parsons (Ballinasloe/Connacht); Claire Keohane (Railway Union/Munster) [Larissa Muldoon, 70], Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere/Ulster) [Nicole Cronin, 67]; Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster) [Laura Feely, 71] [Anne Marie O’Hora, 79], Cliodhna Moloney (Wasps/IQ Rugby), Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Aoife McDermott (Railway Union/Leinster) [Ciara Cooney, 57], Judy Bobbett (Blackrock/Leinster), Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster) [Dorothy Wall, 62] (capt), Edel McMahon (Wasps/Connacht/IQ Rugby), Anna Caplice (Harlequins/IQ Rugby).

Unused replacement: Victoria Dabanovich-O’Mahony (Old Belvedere/Leinster)

WALES WOMEN: Lauren Smyth (Ospreys); Jasmine Joyce (Worcester Warriors/Scarlets) [Paige Randall, 67], Hannah Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury/Scarlets), Kerin Lake (Ospreys), Lisa Neumann (Firwood Waterloo Ladies/RGC); Robyn Wilkins (Cardiff Blues), Keira Bevan (Ospreys) [Ffion Lewis, 74] Gwenllian Pyrs (RGC) [Hope, 74], Kelsey Jones (Osprpyrseys) [Molly Kelly, 76], Cerys Hale (Cardiff Blues) [Ruth Lewis, 76], Natalia John (Ospreys) [Bethan Lewis, HT], Gwen Crabb (Ospreys), Alisha Butchers (Worcester Warriors/Scarlets) [Georgia Evans, 67], Manon Johnes (Cardiff Blues) [Alex Callender, 60], Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys) (capt) [Cara Hope, 36-43].

Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron (South Africa)

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About the author:

Emma Duffy  / Reports from Energia Park, Donnybrook

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