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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 18 October, 2019

'We could have panicked, but that's just not us' -- Ireland's try-scoring hero Alison Miller

‘We knew we had them’, says the flying winger of the four-time world champions.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

IT WAS A try worthy of the feat.

Alison Miller’s 60th minute finish is one that will live long in the memory for any fan of Irish rugby, even if Miller herself is too modest to milk the details.

“I got a great pass off Briggsy and I tried to move my feet a little bit and I just scooted over in the corner,” she told 2FM’s Game On last night. ’Scooted’ definitely didn’t do it justice.

Miller has been this team’s high-octane wing threat in recent seasons, but after Niamh Briggs’ brilliant step to line-break Miller’s acceleration was needed to burn the last defender on an outside line.

It was not the winning score (Briggs would tag her third penalty on 10 minutes from the end) but it was the game-changer.

Having dominated everything bar the scoreboard in the first half, Ireland spent the opening 20 minutes of the second half on the back foot. Every ounce of energy and morsel of experience was summoned to hold the reigning World Cup champions (as they have been since 1998) at bay. The momentum-shifting breakthrough came thanks to Briggs and Miller, and the rest is rugby history.


Ireland may have the oldest average age at this tournament, but that kind of calm trust in their defensive systems shows more than just experience, it’s built on an inner confidence – a quality not traditionally associated with Irish sport.

“We always believed in our squad,” said Miller, echoing her captain’s cool, calm post-match account.

“Within our own environment we knew that we could play and beat them using our own strengths. I suppose we’re not  surprised that we won. We knew we could win and that self-belief is always inherent in the camp -that’s the most important thing.”

Alison Miller runs in for a try 5/8/2014 Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Philip Doyle’s side weren’t shy in showing off that assured approach from the opening whistle. Indeed, only a bizarre series of refereeing calls prevented the Irish pack from forcing their way into the lead in the first half rather than waiting for some back-three magic on the hour

“I thought we maybe should have had a few more points with all the possession in the first half,” continued Miller, “but we knew we had them, so it was just a matter of being patient and letting it come because we were all over them.

I suppose it was similar to the USA game; we went down, but we didn’t panic. We knew we just had to play our own game and be patient. The self-belief is there, that’s in the back of your head when you’re down. I suppose we could have panicked, but that’s not part of us – we keep playing.

“With any of the top teams you have to go at them, you have to show them what we’re capable of. If you sit back and let these teams come at you they’ll gain momentum and confidence.

“We like attacking and playing our rugby and that showed as the game went on. We believed that we could do it – that was vitally important – and we knew within our own camp that we could do it.

“It was just a matter of doing it.”

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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