Ireland and Italy players after their Six Nations clash at Energia Park. Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Ireland 'satisfied' with gritty Italy win and grateful for France gesture to play final Six Nations game in Dublin

Adam Griggs’ side has one more game to play after picking up another home win on Saturday night.

IRELAND HEAD COACH Adam Griggs says his side are grateful that France have agreed to play their final Six Nations game at home next weekend, following a hard-earned win over Italy.

Three tries, including a penalty try, pushed Ireland to victory at Energia Park on Saturday night to maintain their winning form at home in this year’s competition. 

Their goal at the outset of the competition was to pick up victories in all of their home games. They’ve reached that target after defeating Italy, but a change in their fixture schedule will see play at home again next week.

That game against France was originally scheduled to take place at Stadium Lille Métropole on Saturday, but the French have agreed to move the game to Dublin due to the Covid-19 protocols here.

“We can only thank them, really,” Griggs said after the Italy game when asked about the gesture from the French team.

“What they’ve done is keep this alive for us to have another game and also gives them a game as a squad.” 

If the game was to go ahead in France, the Ireland players would have to isolate for 14 days after returning as France is not on the travel Green list. 

The Irish women’s team are amateurs, and are therefore not part of the exempt elite and high-performance athletes list. This means many of them could not commit to isolating for two weeks.

This requirement does not apply to the French team, which ultimately paved the way for the fixture to be moved to Ireland.

“It’s a great move,” Griggs continued, “and we’re delighted that France were willing to do it for us to keep this competition alive and fair play to the IRFU and Six Nations for making it happen for us.

“We’re thrilled to have another game and I guess that shows the rugby family and rugby circle at times like this.”

adam-griggs-speaks-to-his-team-after-the-game Adam Griggs speaks to his players after the game. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

Ireland’s clash with Italy was their first Six Nations game since the Covid-19 shutdown in February.

They found themselves trailing in the opening quarter after Italian hooker Melissa Bettoni went over on the back of some persistent pressure from the visitors.

After an error-strewn start, Ireland gradually hit their stride and were leading at the break following tries from Lindsay Peat and Claire Molloy.

Ireland started to dominate proceedings before a Ciara Griffin penalty try in the second half ultimately sealed victory for Ireland.

“It just showed the rustiness ,” says Griggs about the eight-month wait since their last outing, “and that we weren’t quite prepared in the way Italy were and they put the pressure on us and came out of the blocks quite quickly in the first 20 minutes.

“Once the message came on, I think the players got into a better groove of things and started to string some phases together and put Italy on the back foot. The first 20 minutes was scrappy but as a coaching staff, we were probably prepared for that with being out for so long.”

Try-scorers Peat and Molloy were both back in the Ireland team following respective breaks due to injury and career commitments.

Peat suffered a serious ankle injury in Ireland’s Six Nations clash with England earlier this year and was expected to miss the rest of the tournament at the time.

Molloy returned to the squad last month after taking a sabbatical from international rugby this past year to focus on her medical career. Along with nabbing a try, the Ireland flanker capped off her performance by picking up the player-of-the-match award.

“What you see with those two players is experience, they’ve been through that,” says Griggs about the impact of the Ireland stalwarts.

“The first 20 minutes may not have gone as we wanted but they have that experience to know that we have time to change a game and it’s just about getting those little details and focusing on your core roles.

“Claire Molloy did that for us around defence and she gets on the end of some really good team play to score us a try before half-time.”

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