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Women: Ireland look to sharpen their performance against Wales

Ireland Women will complete their final Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 warm up match against Wales this Sunday afternoon at Malahide Rugby Club. KO 3:00pm.

With only two weeks to go to the start of the World Cup the team will be looking for a more complete performance than the one they produced against Spain, in Valladolid, two weeks ago where they struggled to pull away from their hosts in a 36 – 20 win for Ireland.

Despite going ahead early from a Niamh Briggs try Ireland struggled for most of the first half with their scrum, in particular, under pressure. Spain hit back almost immediately with a converted try, Maria Ribera going over after a period of pressure on the Ireland line.

The hosts went further ahead with a monster penalty kick on the 20th minute before Alison Miller, the stand out player of the first half, found space out wide after Briggs joined the line. Miller skinned the defence and Briggs converted.

It looked like Ireland would go into the lead with a slender 12 – 10 lead but the experienced Tania Rosser spotted a gap in the Spanish defence to go over on the stroke of half time and with Briggs converting Ireland headed to the changing rooms with a somewhat flattering 19 – 10 lead.

Alison Miller. Ireland's stand out player against Spain.
Alison Miller. Ireland’s stand out player against Spain.

Philip Doyle made a few changes at the break and with the scrums improving dramatically the talented back line were able to execute a few more set plays. Half time replacement Jenny Murphy reaped the reward with a brace of tries, crossing on the 50th and 60th minute, to take a 31 – 10 lead in a much improved third quarter.

However the team will be unhappy that they leaked two late tries to Elena Redondo and Iera Etxebarria either side of Ireland’s sixth try scored by the returning Niamh Kavanagh.

Wales lost narrowly, 7 – 10, against the USA, Ireland’s opening opponents in the World Cup, at the end of June. The last time out Ireland beat Wales 14 – 8 in a very tight match at Ashbourne in the Six Nations with the Welsh centres having an impressive match, so this should be a challenging enough encounter for the Irish girls. However, it is one that they should win with something to spare if they are to back up their ranking, alongside Canada, as favourites to upset the big four come the World Cup finals.

IRELAND WOMEN’S SQUAD:

Backs (13) Ashleigh Baxter, Niamh Briggs, Lynne Cantwell, Hannah Casey, Grace Davitt, Paula Fitzpatrick, Niamh Kavanagh, Alison Miller, Larissa Muldoon, Jenny Murphy, Tania Rosser, Nora Stapleton, Jackie Shiels. Forwards (13) Gillian Bourke, Fiona Coghlan, Kerrie-Ann Craddock, Ailis Egan, Orla Fitzsimons, Siobhan Fleming, Laura Guest, Fiona Hayes, Sharon Lynch, Claire Molloy, Heather O’Brien, Marie Louise Reilly, Sophie Spence.

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