down to the wire

Ireland Women go joint-top of Six Nations table after excellent win in Wales

The victory ensures that everything is left to play for next weekend.

Wales Women 0

Ireland Women 20

AFTER DISAPPOINTMENT IN the Valleys yesterday, the Irish Women stepped up to the plate and delivered a strong message in their quest for their Six Nations title.

After a tight opening in Swansea, Tom Tierney’s side took the lead in the 27th minute with flanker Paula Fitzpatrick pushing over from close in after an initial line-out maul put the Welsh on the back-foot. After a number of controlled and patient recycles, Ireland finally got their reward, right under the posts too.

Paula Fitzpatrick scores a try Crispin Rodwell / INPHO Crispin Rodwell / INPHO / INPHO

Captain Niamh Briggs tapped over the conversion and the guests led 7-0 at the break.

As much as the Wales defence had started the game brightly, gaps began to appear early in the second period and with Briggs’ kicking so reliable, the Irish extended their lead when Claire Molloy won a ruck penalty and the full-back slotted over another three points.

Shortly after, following a terrific counter from deep that pushed Ireland into the Welsh 22, Briggs stepped up again and landed another penalty, pushing the scoreline to 13-0 in favour of the away side.

Niamh Briggs celebrates Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Forced to push hard in the final quarter, the Welsh side did go close to the line of a few occasions – captain Rachel Taylor and Laurie Harries making two superb breaks in particular.

But, the Irish defence was robust, relentless but still hungry for more. With the game ebbing to a conclusion, Alison Miller pounced on a cross-field kick from Elinor Snowsill and rampaged towards the line before touching down in the corner.  Despite the imposing angle, Briggs made little mistake from the conversion – her shooting consistency a neat metaphor for the Irish performance.

Alison Miller runs in for a try Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

It all means that Ireland are joint-top of the table with one round of fixtures left. Despite their loss to Italy this weekend, France remain in front on scoring difference. Currently, Les Bleus have a tally of +63 compared to Ireland’s +43 but have the more difficult fixture against England at Twickenham to contend with next. In contrast, the Irish have an away assignment against Scotland – the basement side in this year’s championship.

Should France win in London, Ireland will need to rack up a hefty victory against the Scots though any victory will ensure a second Triple Crown success in three years.

Ireland scorers:
Tries: Paula Fitzpatrick, Alison Miller
Conversions: Niamh Briggs [2]
Penalties: Niamh Briggs [2]

WALES WOMEN: Dyddgu Hywel; Laurie Harries, Adi Taviner, Gemma Rowland, Elen Evans; Elinor Snowsill, Amy Day; Jenny Davies, Carys Phillips, Catrin Edwards, Jenny Hawkins, Rachel Taylor (capt), Sian Williams, Sioned Harries, Shona Powell Hughes.

IRELAND WOMEN: Niamh Briggs (capt); Hannah Tyrrell (Aoife Doyle, ’80+5), Jenny Murphy, Jackie Shiels (Sene Naoupu, ’20-’26, temp), Alison Miller; Nora Stapleton (Naoupu, ’68) , Larissa Muldoon (Rosser, ’55); Ruth O’Reilly (Fiona Hayes, ’55) , Gillian Bourke (Sarah Mimnagh, ’80+5), Ailis Egan (Fiona O’Brien, ’80+5) , Sophie Spence (Katie Norris, ’80+5) , Marie Louise Reilly, Paula Fitzpatrick, Claire Molloy, Heather O’Brien (Orla Fitzsimons, ’34).

Referee: Claire Hodnett (England)

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