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Ireland Women overwhelm Italy

The women in green got their Six Nations campaign back on track in Ashbourne last night, running in a total of five tries against a determined Italian side.

Jennifer Murphy celebrates her second-half try with Laura Guest.
Jennifer Murphy celebrates her second-half try with Laura Guest.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Ireland 40-10 Italy

IRELAND’S WOMEN WITHSTOOD a 20-minute barrage from Italy to record their first Six Nations win of the season at Ashbourne last night.

Winger Niamh Kavanagh scored a try in each half and Niamh Briggs landed four consecutive conversions to give their opponents no more than a glimpse of an upset. Second-row Marie Louise Reilly and No7 Claire Molloy were Ireland’s two stand-out players in a match that was tighter than the bloated scoreline suggests.

Coach Philip Doyle named the same side that narrowly lost away to France two weeks ago and he backed his players to spread the ball wide at every opportunity. With scrums and line-outs at parity throughout it was Ireland’s play out wide and scrambling in the loose that saw them pull clear in the opening stages.

‘Maz’ Reilly had Molloy and out-half Lynne Cantwell to thank for creating enough havoc in the Italian defence to crash over for the opening try. The right wing proved fruitful again after 15 minutes when good work from Joy Neville set Kavanagh free to score.

Italy full-back Veronica Schiavon came up short with two penalties in the first half and Ireland made her pay for her profligacy when the visitors reeled after stealing an Irish line-out. Grace Davitt and Molloy made searing impacts and a spilt ball was pounced upon by Neville to score.

Ireland will play their rescheduled match against Wales in Ashbourne next Saturday and a fourth try before half-time may have allowed the early withdrawal of key players. A yellow card to Ailis Egan put paid to such thoughts and Italy went in 21-7 down at the break when Cristina Molic crashed over at the posts.

Italy re-emerged from the dressing rooms with a renewed sense of purpose and forced Ireland to cede ground at scrums and concede penalties. Ashleigh Baxter at full-back was being tested with high-balls and targeted out wide but she stood up admirably to all that came her way.

No sooner had Egan resumed her position on-field after 10 minutes in the sin-bin than Molloy was seeing yellow for an infringement at the ruck. Reilly frustrated hopes of a solid Italian platform for a try and out-half Michela Tondinelli settled for a drop goal.

Another score from the away side may have caused palpitations but left-winger Alison Miller’s scorching 50-metre break turned the tide. She was a last-ditch ankle-tap away from the try of the tournament but Amy Davis snapped up the resulting pass from Miller to dive over. Briggs made it four from four with a conversion to make it 28-10.

With 20 minutes to go, both sides brought on replacements but Ireland were not content with four tries. The home side rolled a maul 30-metres from the halfway and the ball was eventually fed to the charging backs – Kavanagh outpacing the covering defence to score in the left-hand corner.

A finishing touch from Baxter was called back for a forward pass, but Jennifer Murphy, her late replacement, ran in the sixth try from 40 metres out. Grace Davitt added the extras to make it 40-10.

Ireland – 40
Tries: Niamh Kavanagh (2), Marie Louise Reilly, Amy Davis, Jennifer Murphy
Cons: Niamh Briggs (4), Grace Davitt (1)

Italy- 10
Try: Cristina Molic
Con: Veronica Schiavon
Drop-goal: Michela Tondinelli

Ireland line-up – 15. Ashleigh Baxter (Belfast Harlequins – Ulster), 14. Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohemians – Munster), 13. Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians – Munster), 12. Grace Davitt (Cooke – Ulster), 11. Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Highfield – Connacht), 10. Lynne Cantwell (Exile), 9. Amy Davis (Blackrock – Leinster); 1. Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians – Leinster) Captain,2. Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians – Munster), 3. Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere – Leinster), 4. Sophie Spence (Exile), 5. Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere – Leinster), 6. Laura Guest (Highfield – Munster), 7. Claire Molloy (Bristol – Exile), 8. Joy Neville (UL Bohemians – Munster).

Replacements: 16. Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s – Leinster), 17. Ruth O’Reilly (Galwegians – Connacht), 18. Siobhan Fleming (Tralee – Munster), 19. Heather O’Brien (Highfield – Munster), 20. Larissa Muldoon (Exile/UWIC – Ulster), 21. Nikki Caughey (Belfast Harlequins – Ulster), 22. Jennifer Murphy (Exile).

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