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Ireland aim to complete Italian job and get third home win of the season

Adam Griggs’ side are on a revenge mission after losing 29-27 to Italy last year.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

THIS EVENING IN Donnybrook, Ireland’s Six Nations campaign finally gets to round four, eight months after the campaign began, seven months since it came to such a sudden stoppage.

Nine points from three matches to date, including wins over Wales and Scotland have hinted at the promise of this side. The financial disparity that exists between them and England/France is a sobering reminder of the reality that they work under.

Aiming for third then should not be considered a defeatist attitude. As part-timers competing against full-time English and French teams, the balance sheet sometimes is more influential than the team sheet.

Aside from everything else, there are small goals to aim for. Win this evening and Ireland will have notched up three home wins for the first time since the 2016 campaign. For their part the Italians have also taken Wales’ scalp this year and will be aiming to add to their 29-27 win in Parma last year, their first win in 13 attempts against Ireland.

Dorothy Wall makes her first start for Ireland, while Claire Molloy, Beibhinn Parsons, Linsday Peat, Sene Naoupu and Hannah Tyrrell are available now when they wouldn’t have been back in March when the game was originally scheduled.

beibhinn-parsons-celebrates-scoring-the-opening-try-with-aoife-mcdermott-and-anna-caplice Parsons has lit up this Six Nations so far. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

No team have averaged as many ball carries as Ireland in this year’s Championship – Italy coming a close second – so that gives you an idea of the type of game we can expect. Remember too Ireland’s tidy habit of scoring early tries in the opening quarter of games; so many things are pointing to a home win.

“We’re raring to go at the moment and, looking at the selection, it’s quite a settled side we’ve got,” said coach, Adam Griggs. “The beauty of what we’ve got now is such a competitive wider squad and some of those selections weren’t as straight forward as you think. Some of those players who’ve missed out can take credit for how hard they’ve pushed these girls.

“The thing for me and with this group, we try and simplify things and do them at 100%. We’ve spoken this week about having quality execution in everything that we do.

“It’s not necessarily just scoring tries, but it’s the smaller detail about the breakdown. Even in terms of our handling and getting on the front foot. That’s something for us as a team that we’re always striving to be a bit better at. Not just fall into a trap of ‘we said we’d do this, so we’re going to continue doing it’.

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“It’s probably the biggest thing we’ve pushed over the last month. That decision making and trying to actually play what’s in front of you and what the defensive picture gives you. Rather than sticking to any set plan. From my point of view in coaching, you’ve got to empower the players to do that. Again, that’s what we’ve really tried to replicate at training.

“If you look back over the last couple of seasons, we created a lot of opportunities. But it’s that last pass or it’s a penalty at a breakdown or something like that that’s cost us. I even look at when we were playing Scotland in that first game in this block, where in the second half we gave away 10 penalties in a row that kept them in the game.

“When we went back and looked at that, there were incidences where if we’ve got it right, and we executed like you say, we could have put them away very early. We’ve got to have that ruthless edge to us.”

Tonight is as good a place as any to start.

Ireland vs Italy, 6.30pm, live RTÉ2

Ireland: 15. Lauren Delany, 14. Laura Sheehan, 13. Enya Breen, 12. Sene Naoupu, 11. Béibhinn Parsons, 10. Hannah Tyrrell, 9. Kathryn Dane; 1. Lindsay Peat, 2. Cliodhna Moloney, 3. Linda Djougang, 4. Nichola Fryday, 5. Ciara Cooney, 6. Dorothy Wall, 7. Claire Molloy, 8. Ciara Griffin

Replacements: 16. Neve Jones, 17. Katie O’Dwyer, 18. Leah Lyons, 19. Brittany Hogan, 20. Hannah O’Connor, 21. Ailsa Hughes, 22. Larissa Muldoon, 23. Katie Fitzhenry

Italy: 15. Manuela Furlan, 14. Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi, 13. Michela Sillari, 12. Beatrice Rigoni, 11. Aura Muzzo, 10. Veronica Madia, 9. Sofia Stefan; 1. Silvia Turani, 2. Melissa Bettoni, 3. Lucia Gai, 4. Sara Tounesi, 5. Giordana Duca, 6. Francesca Sgorbini, 7. Giada Franco, 8. Elisa Giordano

Replacements: 16. Giulia Cerato, 17. Erika Skofca, 18. Michela Merlo, 19. Valeria Fedrighi, 20. Francesca Sberna, 21. Sara Barattin, 22. Beatrice Capomaggi, 23. Benedetta Mancini

About the author:

Garry Doyle

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