Late, late Murphy try gives Ireland opening night bonus-point win in Scotland

The Ireland centre crashed over from close range to grab a bonus-point win for Tom Tierney’s side.

Scotland 15

Ireland 22

Murray Kinsella reports from Broadwood Stadium

THE RETURN OF Jenny Murphy this evening was hugely exciting for Ireland fans, but the imposing centre had largely been quiet until her big moment arrived in the last minute of play.

The returning midfielder smashed over under the posts to earn Ireland a last-gasp 22-15 victory over Scotland to open their Six Nations campaign.

A disappointing draw had looked likely until Ireland’s endgame effort. Instead, Tom Tierney’s side leave Cumbernauld with a bonus-point win.

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

An extremely limited share of possession and territory in the second half for Ireland looked like costing them an opening-night win, but Murphy’s late surge saved the day, after replacement prop Ciara O’Connor had carried to within a metre.

With rain sheeting down on a bitterly cold night at Broadwood Stadium, the home of football club Clyde FC, the error count was high in front of a crowd of around 1,000.

Having last lost to the Scots in 2006 and won at this venue on a scoreline of 73-3 as recently as 2015, Ireland arrived with favouritism and just about fulfilled it to leave Scotland dejected.

The likes of debutant scrum-half Ailsa Hughes, captain Paula Fitzpatrick, centre Sene Naoupu, wing Ali Miller and lock Marie-Louise Reilly all showed their quality, but Ireland can certainly improve on this showing.

Their breakdown work was weak and poor discipline allowed Scotland to boss the territory in the second half. Tierney and his coaching staff will be targeting vast improvement ahead of the round-two tie away to Italy next weekend.

The Scots hit the front just six minutes in, with number eight Jade Konkel barrelling over from close-range after Louise McMillan had made an important break into the Ireland 22. Sarah Law’s conversion made it 7-0.

Ireland players celebrate Alison Miller's try Source: Craig Watson/INPHO

But Ireland responded swiftly, with the excellent Naoupu finishing in the left corner, following a turnover partly forced by Lindsay Peat in the Scotland 22. Ireland sent the ball wide left, where Miller was stopped short, but she managed to release inside for Naoupu to gather and score.

Ireland bossed much of the next 15 minutes, with Claire Molloy’s influence growing, and finally had their second after a lengthy period of scrum pressure near the Scots’ tryline. It was the backs who finally conjured the try after a series of scrum penalties, with Miller dotting down on the left after good hands from Stapleton and Mairead Coyne.

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Stapleton didn’t convert either Ireland try, meaning the Scots were back in the lead when Konkel crashed over for her second on the 30-minute mark.

Though Law missed what looked like being a straightforward conversion, she made amends before the break with a penalty to send the home side into the break 15-10 to the good.

With the rain now teeming down, Ireland took advantage of a yellow card for Scotland tighthead Lindsey Smith in the 51st minute, scoring their third try almost immediately as Lindsay Peat broke off a maul to drive over.

Stapleton’s conversion effort dropped short, but Law missed with a penalty soon after and the game headed into the final quarter locked at 15-15.

Emma Wassell tackles Paula Fitzpatrick Source: Craig Watson/INPHO

Having weathered the remaining minutes of Smith’s sin bin, Scotland powered back at Ireland with breaks from Lisa Thomson and Chloe Rollie helping to earn a penalty, but out-half Helen Nelson was wide from the tee, Law having been replaced.

Having struggled desperately for possession, Ireland looked to play out of their own half in the closing 10 minutes and eventually gained what had been an elusive foothold in Scottish territory.

Murphy stepped up when her team needed her most.

Scotland scorers:

Tries:  Jade Konkel [2]

Conversions: Sarah Law [1 from 2]

Penalties: Sarah Law [1 from  2], Helen Nelson [0 from  1]

Ireland scorers:

Tries: Sene Naoupu, Ali Miller, Lindsay Peat, Jenny Murphy

Conversions: Nora Stapleton [1 from 4]

SCOTLAND WOMEN: Chloe Rollie; Megan Gaffney, Lisa Thomson, Lisa Martin (captain), Rhona Lloyd; Helen Nelson, Sarah Law (Jenny Maxwell ’63); Tracy Balmer (Heather Lockhart ’66), Rachel Malcolm (Lucy Park ’38), Lindsey Smith (yellow card ’51); Emma Wassell, Deborah McCormack (Sarah Bonar ’63); Karen Dunbar, Louise McMillan, Jade Konkel (Katie Dougan ’60 to ’63).

Replacements not used: Jemma Forsyth, Lauren Harris, Eilidh Sinclair.

IRELAND WOMEN: Mairead Coyne; Niamh Kavanagh (Eimear Considine ‘HT), Jenny Murphy, Sene Naoupu, Alison Miller; Nora Stapleton, Ailsa Hughes (Mary Healy ’69); Lindsay Peat (Ilse Van Staden ’72), Leah Lyons (Jennie Finlay ’72), Ailis Egan (Ciara O’Connor ’72); Orla Fitzsimons (Elaine Anthony ‘HT), Marie-Louise Reilly; Ciara Griffin, Claire Molloy, Paula Fitzpatrick (captain).

Replacements not used: Nichola Fryday, Claire Mc Laughlin.

Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron.

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Murray Kinsella

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