Ireland scored four second half tries to run out winners by 27 – 7, at Malahide RFC, in their final warm up match before the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup, which kicks off on 1st August.
Ireland’s tries came from Ashleigh Baxter, Fiona Coghlan, Alison Miller and Ailis Egan in a blistering second half performance with Nora Stapleton adding two conversions and a penalty from the boot.
Ireland took to the field without Niamh Briggs and Lynne Cantwell and they appeared to be missing their two main playmakers as they struggled to capitalize on possession in the first half.
The home side kept Wales pinned in their own half for the first fifteen minutes but a loose pass from Coghlan fell into the hands of the impressive Welsh No 8 Sioned Harries who showed impressive pace to sprint home from just outside her own 22. Welsh out-half Robyn Wilkins added the extras to give the visitors a 0 – 7 lead somewhat against the run of play.
Wales enjoyed a good period of possession after their score and had a couple of chances to extend their lead but Ireland held firm and regrouped and finally got on the scoreboard after a break by centre Grace Davitt set up a penalty chance for Stapleton in front of the posts to take the score to 3 – 7.
Wales lost their winger Adi Taviner to the bin in the same play but Ireland failed to take advantage spurring a couple of chances close to the line and will have been disappointed to go into the break trailing their visitors by four points.
Things got decidedly better in the second half with Ulster’s Baxter scoring a long range try minutes after the restart. Stapleton knocked over the extras and Ireland led 10 – 7 and proceeded to dominate the remainder of the match.
Captain Coghlan was next to cross, dotting down at the end of a driving maul and Stapleton converted to push Ireland 10 points clear and moments later Jenny Murphy and Baxter combined to send Miller over out wide, though Miller had some work to do to beat the last three defenders!
With Ireland sitting pretty at 22 – 7 coach Philip Doyle made some positional changes with Baxter’s move to full back the most noticeable as she effortlessly snuffed out each Welsh foray into the Ireland half. Larissa Muldoon came on at scrum half with Tania Rosser moving to out half and within minutes a well worked moves saw prop Egan go over in the corner for Ireland’s fourth try, after some nice work by replacement Siobhan Fleming, moving the score to 27 – 7.
The remainder of the match petered out as both teams emptied their benches but Ireland will be pleased with the result and the performance in the second half.
Ireland: Jackie Shiels, Ashleigh Baxter, Grace Davitt, Jenny Murphy, Alison Miller, Nora Stapleton, Tania Rosser, Fiona Coghlan, Gill Bourke, Ailis Egan, Sophie Spence, Marie Louise Reilly, Paula Fitzpatrick, Claire Molloy, Heather O’Brien. Replacements: Niamh Kavanagh, Siobhan Fleming, Hannah Casey, Larissa Muldoon, Sharon Lynch, Laura Guest, Kerrie-Ann Craddock, Orla Fitzsimons.