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Ireland look to build on historic England win against ruck-hungry Wales

Tania Rosser explains that the Irish camp are focused on further improvement.

WALES AS A RUGBY nation has a certain obsession with the breakdown, something Ireland Women are expecting to have a central role in their Six Nations clash in Swansea on Sunday [KO 12.00, RTE 2FM and live stream at www.IrishRugby.ie].

Tania Rosser Rosser says Ireland are consistently focused on improvement, even after wins against England. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The likes of Sam Warburton and Gethin Jenkins lead the Welsh men’s teams in sniffing out turnovers on the deck, but it’s the the likes of Sioned Harries and Sian Williams who will be looking to cause trouble at St. Helen’s RFC.

Jackaling and fighting for space over the ball post-tackle is almost a way of life for the Welsh, so Ireland have been spending plenty of time focusing on the breakdown and ruck in the lead-up to this game.

“Wales are Wales, they always want to slow down the ruck ball and make it slow for us to get any good attacking ball off it,” says Ireland’s Tania Rosser.

“I think our forwards are playing really well at the moment though, and if we can get any quick ball out our backs can attack.”

So what’s the key to limiting the Welsh threat? Rosser says the formula is straightforward.

I think we need good ball presentation from the carrier, the first two people get in and clean out, then get the ball away. Wales love that ruck area, they love to really be dogged at that area. We need to show them there’s nowhere to go there.”

Rosser has confidence in Ireland’s ability to do so, something that was boosted by the win over England in Ashbourne a fortnight ago. That result was just Ireland’s second win against the English ever, and re-ignited their Six Nations hopes.

A defeat at home to France the previous week had left Ireland’s title tilt in some doubt, but Rosser says the England performance was more reflective of this group.

Tania Rosser Rosser in the zone before Ireland's win over England. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“It’s brilliant, the girls put in a huge performance to come back after losing to France. It shows the true character of our girls. I think the forwards did an extremely good job to hold them out and get the last penalty, then to slot that and get the win was brilliant.

“If we get in two good performances against Wales and Scotland, who knows? We could win the championship.”

It’s a game-by-game focus for the Irish camp under head coach Tom Tierney and forwards specialist Declan O’Brien, meaning Rosser and her teammates are not looking beyond proceedings in Swansea.

Despite their historic achievement against world champions England last time out, it’s a mark of this Ireland side that they believe there’s more to come.

“You always want to be better with each game,” explains Rosser. “We showed good character to win that game, but I think we need to push on a bit more. With every game you want to be better.

“I think the girls’ expectation for themselves is that they want to be the best they can be.”

Ireland:

15. Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemian/ Munster) (captain)
14. Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)
13. Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)
12. Jackie Shiels (Richmond/ Exiles)
11. Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht)
10. Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)
9. Larissa Muldoon (Skewen RFC)

1. Ruth O’Reilly (Galwegians/ Connacht)
2. Gillian Bourke (Olympico de Pozuelo RFC)
3. Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)
4. Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)
5. Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)
6. Paula Fitzpatrick (St Marys/ Leinster)
7. Claire Molloy (Bristol/ Connacht)
8. Heather O’Brien (Highfield/ Munster)

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Replacements:

16. Sarah Mimnagh (Wasps/Exiles)
17. Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemian/ Munster)
18. Fiona O’Brien (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)
19. Orla Fitzsimons (St Marys/ Leinster)
20. Katie Norris (Blackrock / Leinster)
21. Tania Rosser (Blackrock/ Leinster)
22. Sene Naoupu (Galwegians/Connacht)
23. Aoife Doyle (Shannon/ Munster)

Wales:

15. Dyddgu Hywel (Pontyclun/Scarlets)
14. Laurie Harries (Llandaff North/Blues)
13. Adi Taviner (Skewen/Ospreys)
12. Gemma Rowland (Wasps/Dragons)
11. Elen Evans (Waterloo/Scarlets)
10. Elinor Snowsill (Dragons)
9. Amy Day (Llandaff North/Dragons)

1. Jenny Davies (Caernarfon/Blues)
2. Carys Phillips (Bath Ladies/Scarlets)
3. Catrin Edwards (Llandaff North/Scarlets)
4. Jenny Hawkins (Llandaff North/Blues)
5. Rachel Taylor (Bristol Ladies/Dragons) (captain)
6. Sian Williams (Worcester/Dragons)
7. Sioned Harries (Whitland/Scarlets)
8. Shona Powell Hughes (Skewen/Ospreys)

Replacements:

16. Amy Lawrence (Skewen/Ospreys)
17. Caryl Thomas (Bath Ladies/Scarlets)
18. Amy Evans (Skewen/Ospreys)
19. Rebecca Rowe (London Welsh/Dragons)
20. Melissa Clay (Pencoed/Ospreys)
21. Keira Bevan (Skewen/Ospreys)
22. Kerin Lake (Skewen/Ospreys)
23. Hannah Jones (Penybanc/Scarlets)

- Originally published at 20.30 on 14 March, updated to 07.00 on 15 March.

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