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Briggs leads by example in Italy as five-try Ireland Women signal bright new dawn

Jenny Murphy, part of a new centre combination, also ran her way onto the score-sheet.

Image: Ivan Marianelli/INPHO

Italy 5

Ireland 30

IRELAND WOMEN OPENED Tom Tierney’s tenure as head coach and a new era with a win over a dogged Italian side under Friday night lights in Florence.

True to the Azzuri tradition, Italy were a fiercely competitive and physical, but composure and tactical nous gave Ireland the upper hand that led to a comprehensive victory.

After a lively opening quarter and a period of persistent pressure from the Girls in Green, newly appointed captain Niamh Briggs opened the scoring, with a try coming off the back off the scrum. The fullback converted her own try.

After the interval, the Italian resistance collapsed after blindside flanker Paula Fitzpatrick powered over the line. Briggs failed to add the extras.

The captain atoned for this miss then minutes later with a superb long rang penalty kick.

At 58 minutes the Italian defensive wilted as inside centre Jenny Murphy scored off her own grubber kick. Briggs’ conversion drifted wide.

Niamh Briggs Source: Ivan Marianelli/INPHO

Despite her patchy place-kicking Briggs’ led from example and it looked as if she had scored a brace at 63 minutes, only for the try to be disallowed. However, two minutes later number eight Heather O’Brien crossed the line. Briggs’ conversion took the score to 25 nil.

Fitzpatrick sealed a brace for herself with just five minutes left to play. The final play of the match resulted in a consolation score from Azzuri replacement Maria Magatti.

A bright dawn to a new era for Ireland.

Scoring

20 mins: N Briggs try, 5-0; N Briggs conv, 7-0. Half-time.

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44 mins: P Fitzpatrick try, 12-0; 56 mins: N Briggs pen, 15-0; 58 mins: J Murphy try, 20-0; 65 mins: H O’Brien try, 25-0; 74 mins: P Fitzpatrick try, 30-0; 80 mins: M Magatti try, 30-5.

Ireland: N Briggs; H Tyrrell, J Murphy, J Shiels, A Miller; N Stapleton, L Muldoon; R O’Reilly, G Bourke, A Egan; S Spence, ML Reilly; P Fitzpatrick, C Molloy, H O’Brien.

Replacements: F Hayes for R O’Reilly, K Fitzhenry for J Shiels, O Fitzsimons for ML Reilly (all 69 mins) , S Naoupu for A Miller (75 mins) , T Rosser for L Muldoon (78 mins)

Italy: M Furlan, M Veronese, S Stefan, M Cioffi, M Sillari, V Schiavon, S Barattin, E Cucchiella, L Cammarano, M Bettoni, F Severin, A Trevisan, I Arrighetti, E Giordano, S Gaudino (capt).

Replacements: V Ruzza for I Arrighetti (49 mins), P Zangirolmami for M Cioffi, B Rigoni for M Veronese (both 53 mins), M Magatti for S Stefan (68 mins).

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Kate Rowan

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