The Women’s Six Nations completed their Round 2 fixtures over the weekend and there were a couple of surprises, if not in the results, at least in the size of some of the wins.
Ireland (7) 21
TRY: Megan Williams, Ciara Griffin (2)
CON: Niamh Briggs (3)
Italy (3) 8
TRY: Eleonora Ricci
PEN: Michela Sillari.
Ireland started the game well and, despite an early injury to Alison Miller, they were able to work Megan Williams over in the corner for an early try. the winger was able to take the ball under the posts for Niamh Briggs to convert.
The home side dominated most of the first half but poor handling let them down time and again allowing Italy to clear.
As Ireland’s form continued to frustrate, the Italians eventually worked themselves a couple of chances with Manuela Furlan and Valentina Ruzza going close before the visitors got on the scoreboard through a Michela Sillari penalty just before the break. The teams turned round with Ireland leading 7- 3.
The second half was fairly similar as Ireland’s carelessness and a spirited Italian defence saw several chances go to waste before the Irish scrum came to the rescue with two tries from captain Ciara Griffin as they powered towards, and over, the line.
Briggs converted both to push the score out to 21 – 3 but they were unable to find a bonus point score, Italy having the final word as prop Eleonora Ricci restored some national pride by barging over from close range in the final minutes.
Final score: Ireland 21 Italy 8
Ireland: Kim Flood, Megan Williams, Katie Fitzhenry, Sene Naoupu, Alison Miller, Niamh Briggs, Ailsa Hughes, Lindsay Peat, Cliodhna Moloney, Fiona Reidy, Paula Fitzpatrick, Nichola Fryday, Anna Caplice, Claire Molloy, Ciara Griffin. Replacements: Leah Lyons, Laura Feely, Ciara O’Connor, Orla Fitzsimons, Edel McMahon, Nicole Cronin, Michelle Claffey, Claire McLaughlin
Round 2 Wrap
The most surprising result was a rampant England putting 52 points past a disappointing Wales, with ex Ulster Women’s player Poppy Cleall particularly impressive for England. Now we expected a comfortable win for England but thought that the Welsh would have been more resilient given the improvements they have made over the last couple of seasons. The Welsh team will be particularly disappointed that they didn’t trouble the scoreboard.
Scotland Women v France Women did go pretty much as expected but it was a disappointing game with players on both sides looking off form in difficult conditions.
I’d expected Ireland to record a bonus point win against Italy who seem to have reduced the emphasis on their Women’s squad over the last 18 months. No excuses with the conditions in this one, it was all just a bit too “snatchy” from the Ireland backline who haven’t relaxed into their play for some time now. The old adage, “Forwards win games, backs decide by how much”, is truer with Ireland Women than with anyone else. Unfortunately, the backs haven’t hit the expected standard just yet.
The results from the weekend are shown below:
|England||52 – 0||Wales||The Stoop|
|Scotland||3 – 26||France||Scotstoun|
|Ireland||21 – 8||Italy||Donnybrook|
As expected, England and France have started to put some distance between the rest and the Championship will likely be decided when these two “semi” professional sides meet in Round 4.
The battle for the best of the rest looks (slightly less) likely to be decided in Round 3 when Ireland host Wales at Donnybrook, though it might be a bit early to discount Scotland from having a say in this competition within a competition.