Ireland Women can be genuinely disappointed that they didn’t pull off their first away win against England though, despite some naive officiating, they only have themselves to blame!
England Women (8) 13
TRY: Emma Croker, Abbie Scott.
PEN: Amber Reed
Ireland Women (6) 9
PEN: Niamh Briggs (3).
The opening screenshot of the Ireland team sheet on England Rugby’s coverage showed Philip Doyle as the Ireland Manager but I don’t think an Ireland team coached by Goose would have shown as little composure in the opening half hour.
Ireland were at sixes and sevens in the opening exchanges with poor positional kicking from Niamh Briggs and Nora Stapleton allowing a nervy enough England to settle into the game. As against France, Ireland’s more experienced players wanted to be involved in nearly every move at the start of the game but rather than ease the nerves of their less experienced team-mates it appeared to disrupt their shape.
England clocked up an early penalty through Amber Reed and on the 22nd minute Emma Crocker crashed over from a line out maul and at that point Ireland were in such disarray that I though they were in for a major beating.
Thankfully the try seemed to settled Irish nerves and keeping the ball in hand and tight to the forwards they managed to work two kick-able penalties before the break which Briggs duly slotted over to take the score to 8 – 6 as the teams changed ends.
Now somewhat in the ascendancy Ireland looked to be getting well on top and a 48th minute penalty from Briggs put them in the lead at 8 – 9.
Good work from the forwards, with Claire Molloy and Cliodhna Moloney prominent, saw Ireland continue to press the England defence but a series of poor calls from the officials let the hosts off the hook. England’s Sarah Hunter should have been binned, and a penalty try awarded, when she pulled down a maul three meters out and when Harriet Millar-Mills was binned, minutes later, the tap and go score from Briggs should really have been allowed.
To add insult to injury England broke upfield to score minutes later, Abbie Scott crossing unopposed of the back of a ruck. The conversion was missed but England were back in the lead at 13 – 9.
The wide open spaces of Twickenham took it’s toll on both teams in the closing stages with the game fizzling out with neither side getting on top.
Final Score: England 13 Ireland 9
It was a disappointingly shapeless opening half hour from Ireland, especially as England were there for the taking. The match was played, and worryingly officiated, like a trials match and was a long way short from what I’ve come to expect from both these sides.
However there were some good points as the game continued with the middle third getting to the standard expected. However I feel Ireland’s more experienced players need to have a touch more faith in their new colleagues and should concentrate more on keeping the overall shape of the team rather than get involved in every play.