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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 15 October, 2019

Ireland out to top last weekend's mediocre performance and finish Italian job

Despite a bonus-point win over Scotland, there are mistakes to rectify.

ALREADY A WEEKEND of bumper success in Italy, the women are hoping to make it a perfect three out of three for Ireland’s Six Nations sides later today. [KO 1pm, Irish time - live on RTÉ Two]

Jenny Murphy celebrates scoring the winning try Ireland celebrate last weekend's winning try. Source: Craig Watson/INPHO

Ireland enter their second clash of the series off the back of a bonus-point win in Scotland last week but have wrongs to right, as they pulled of a last gasp escape to the disappointment of the pre-match underdogs.

The 22-15 win in unfavourable conditions was essentially a robbery. An unduly amount of errors, a lack of discipline and an overall deficient performance on the Ireland front will leave Scotland feeling like their opening clash was one that got away.

Thankfully for Ireland though, not only did they manage to use their get out of jail card to edge the win and vital points in the end, but the competition is at a very early stage.

The mistakes and concerns can all be rectified at L’Aquila’s Stadio Tommaso Fattori today, and each and every one of the players know that.

“We were disappointed in ourselves in terms of we didn’t reach our own standards so we’re delighted that we get another crack at it now this weekend,” captain Paula Fitzpatrick said at the media briefing on Wednesday.

“Things didn’t click in an overall sense, but if you look at things like the set-piece, that obviously went very well. The scrum was quite dominant, the line-out we had a lot of joy at as well.

“The main issues we had were around discipline, we gave away too many penalties. Things like handling errors as well really let us down.

Those are very very fixable things, they’re not things we would traditionally be known for so we’d be looking to put them right this weekend.”

One major positive that Ireland can draw from last weekend’s victory is the fact that they’ve blooded in some exciting prospects, among them debutant scrum-half Ailsa Hughes and Clare dual star Eimear Considine.

Earning her first Ireland cap last weekend as a half-time replacement, Considine is enjoying life with the fifteens having spent the majority of her short rugby career playing sevens.

After taking up rugby in college, last weekend was just the fourth time the 25-year-old has played 15-a-side and what better way to do it that on the international stage.

Eimear Considine Eimear Considine. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“I’ve only played the three inter-pro games at 15-a-side, and then the game against Scotland. I haven’t even played any club games with Bohs yet so I’ve kind of just been thrown straight into it.

“I had intended on going back playing football with Clare this year, I’d been to one or two trainings before Christmas. Then, when I got the call from Tom [Tierney], automatically I was going to drop everything.

“When I got named in the 30-man squad, I was over the moon. I didn’t think I’d be near the 23, so it was great to get on. I’m taking it week-by-week.

“Not that we underestimated Scotland, but the last few years results have gone our way pretty easily so I kind of expected to get ten minutes at the end when we had the game won. I didn’t ever expect to come on at half-time being five points down.

We didn’t play to the best we could play, but we had patience and we got there in the end. The performance wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t the way we wanted to do it but we still have five points at the end of the day.”

But last week is in the past now. They’re pushing on and ready for the Azzuri challenge.

Italy lost their opening fixture to Wales. Two points down and well within touch at half-time, they failed to score in second half however and the scoreboard finished up 20-8.

They’ve made two changes to their side as they seek redemption. Winger Maria Magatti replaces last weeks’ inside centre Paola Zangirolami, while Sofia Stefan slots into the midfield wearing number 12.

Tom Tierney’s side have come out the better of each of the two forces’ Six Nations meetings since 2007, by notable margins on most occasions. The two nations have met on 14 previous occasions in total, with Italy’s sole previous victory coming in their first ever clash in Nice in 1997.

That being said however, they cannot be underestimated.

Currently enjoying her captaincy role in Niamh Briggs’ absence, Fitzpatrick is well aware of their threat.

Paula Fitzpatrick Paula Fitzpatrick. Source: Craig Watson/INPHO

“They’ve some good players, we’ve had a look at them already. Their scrum-half Sara Barattin, she’d be one of their key players. Their back three will attack from anywhere, they’ll counter and they’re good kickers as well.

They’ll be tough. It’ll be a tough test.”

Meanwhile on the Irish front, there have been two changes made – Elaine Anthony gets a starting spot alongside Marie-Louise Reilly in the second row, while Hannah Tyrrell, who was on duty for the Ireland Sevens side in Sydney last weekend, starts on the wing.

2015 World Player of the Year nominee Sophie Spence is a welcome addition to the bench as she returns from injury, while Ciara Cooney also features in the matchday 23.

Head coach Tierney echoes the words of his players, and knows exactly what’s needed of them to progress.

“We’ve reviewed the performance against Scotland and the players are aware of the areas that they need to improve on.

“The nature of the Six Nations is that there are no easy games, so we’ll have to be really focused going into the game this Sunday.”


15. Mairead Coyne (Galwegians / Connacht)
14. Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
13. Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere / Leinster)
12. Sene Naoupu (Aylesford Bulls)
11. Alison Miller (Old Belvedere / Connacht)
10. Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere / Leinster)
9. Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union / Leinster)

1. Lindsay Peat (Railway Union / Leinster)
2. Leah Lyons (Highfield / Munster)
3. Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere / Leinster)
4. Elaine Anthony (Highfield / Munster)
5. Marie-Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere / Leinster)
6. Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians / Munster)
7. Claire Molloy (Bristol / Connacht)
8. Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s College / Leinster)


16. Jennie Finlay (Old Belvedere / Leinster)
17. Ilse Van Staden (Cooke / Ulster)
18. Ciara O Connor (Galwegians / Connacht)
19. Ciara Cooney (Railway Union / Leinster)
20. Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere / Leinster)
21. Mary Healy (Galwegians / Connacht)
22. Claire McLaughlin (Cooke / Ulster)
23. Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians / Munster)


15. Manuela Furlan
14. Michela Sillari
13. Mariagrazia Cioffi
12. Sofia Stefan
11. Maria Magatti
10. Beatrice Rigoni
9. Sara Barattin
1. Elisa Cucchiella
2. Melissa Bettoni
3. Lucia Gai
4. Flavia Severin
5. Alice Trevisan
6. Lucia Cammarano
7. Isabella Locatelli
8. Elisa Giordano


16. Marta Ferrari
17. Gaia Giacomoli
18. Michela Este
19. Elisa Pillotti
20. Ilaria Arrighetti
21. Claudia Salvadego
22. Silvia Folli
23. Paola Zangirolami

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