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Changes in Ireland team were a 'risk' but Tierney applauds character of the players

Ireland women’s rugby team have more lessons to take from their second November Test.

The Ireland Women's Rugby team have one more chance to steal a win in the November Series.
The Ireland Women's Rugby team have one more chance to steal a win in the November Series.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

IRELAND WOMEN’S HEAD coach Tom Tierney concedes that changes in personnel were a risk heading into their second rugby Test of the November Series against Canada.

The hosts suffered a 48-7 defeat to Canada yesterday, with a side including ten switches to the starting line-up which faced England in the first Test.

Tierney said the wholesale changes were risky but was pleased with how the players, including first-time caps Nichola Fryday and Anna Caplice, responded to the challenge.

Anna Caplice on the attack Anna Caplice impressed on her first international cap. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“With the ten changes that we put in, that was a risk and we knew that going in,” Tierney told The42.

“But when matches like that happen, it’s about how the players and the character that they show to see who steps up to the plate. A lot of the girls, while they were on the back foot and under the pump, they showed a lot of good stuff and that’ll bring them forward.”

After leaking three tries in the opening half, half-time substitutions appeared to have revitalised Tierney’s side with a Nikki Caughey try arriving shortly after the restart. But Ireland’s purple patch was eclipsed by a superior Canada attack.

Julianne Zussman on her way to scoring a try Julianne Zussman scores a try for Canada against Ireland. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“There was just too many turnovers” he said, ”and then it went into a long phase of defensive sets which Canada were very good at, they held on to the ball for two plus minutes on seven occasions, that’s a very long time to be defending.

“We were competitive for the first ten or 15 minutes of the second half but then the power of the Canadians shone through and you can’t argue with the scoreline.”

He added: ”The positives were when we did hold onto the ball and we did play in the right areas, we put them under pressure and that’s the challenge for us that we have more possession.”

“We had 35% possession today whereas we had 60% possession against England so they’re the stats that bear out the result and the performance from both games.”

Tom Tierney Tom Tierney looking on at the UCD Bowl. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

This is a huge learning for us, we’ve never played Canada before outside of a World Vup, we’ve never played New Zealand before outside of a World Cup so to get that opportunity and experience is worth it’s weight in gold. Sometimes the best way to learn is the hard way and it was very hard today.”

All players in the Irish camp have been given some game time over the first two tests, meaning the team can utilise that experience against New Zealand in the final fixture of the month.

And with a World Cup on home soil coming up in nine months and the 2017 Six Nations just around the bend, Tierney stressed the importance of getting games against teams of Canada’s calibre to prepare them for what lies ahead.

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Alison Miller with Julianne Sussman Alison Miller in possession against Canada. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“It was a very tough day at the office but at the same time, that’s exactly what we were looking for, obviously not from a scoring point of view but that’s what we’re looking for — a test against arguably the most impressive team we have come up against.

“Canada are very good and are absolutely one of the favourites in the World Cup so it’s great to have a taste for what it’s all about at that level.”

“We’ll never be defined by one performance or anything like that and we’ll dust ourselves off. The girls are disappointed inside but they know we’ll knuckle down, hopefully put in a big performance against New Zealand and finish the series on a high.”

Meanwhile, Tierney offered an encouraging update on Mairead Coyne who was withdrawn from the game with a head injury. Tierney assured that the substitution was just precautionary and is hopeful that the full-back will be available for selection for the New Zealand clash next weekend.

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