Daimhlinn Darling reports.
The Arm’s Park was the venue for the final Women’s Six Nations clash between Ireland and Wales this St.Patrick’s day. The sun was shining in Cardiff with a slight breeze which favoured Ireland in the opening half. Both teams made two changes to the sides with Ireland’s 17 year old Beibhinn Parsons making her first start for the side.
Ireland start strong with a great break in the first minute from Deirbhile Nic A Bhaird . Eimear Considine and Lauren Delaney continued the move up the pitch. Throughout the the opening minutes, Ireland proved to be the more threatening side with 67% of the action taking place in the Welsh 22 and no action at all within the Irish half.
Unforced errors by the Welsh resulted in an early attempt for the line by young Beibhinn Parsons who was stubbornly held up by the Welsh defence.
The 13th minute, however, saw Parsons claim her try after great running lines through the back line and a simple draw and pass from Lauren Delany, taking the score to 0 – 5.
Wales replied with a try from their winger, Jess Kavanagh in the 18th minute, running it in from beyond the Irish 22. Both conversions were missed by their respective kickers leaving the score at 5 all.
Ireland’s Anna Caplice made her way onto the pitch after an injury in the 19th minute forced Nicola Friday to go off.
The visitors set piece was dysfunctional in the opening quarter and failed to compete effectively with the Welsh’s pack. The Irish side struggled to get the ball through the hands and overlaps on the outside, resulting in possible tries, were lost.
The second quarter gave Ireland some hope when a yellow card was given to Wales’ Siwan Lillicrap, after a high tackle on Claire McLaughlin.
The Irish side didn’t capitalise on this with their set piece continuing to be a problem. As soon as Lillicrap returned the hosts claimed their second try. Their captain, Carys Phillips, scoring in the 36th minute after a simple maul setup. Lleucu George converted to take the score to 12 – 5.
As the teams turn round it is clear that Wales are dominating all aspect of the set piece. Both teams are a little messy in their open play with a lot of unforced errors and turnovers. Ireland have not used the wind to their advantage which Wales will hope to capitalise on in the next half.
Ireland started the second half as they started the first; threatening in their running lines with multiple one off runner line breaks. Anna Caplice is prominent during this period running some good lines. However a lot of good work from Ireland comes to nothing as the Welsh defence eventually force a mistake, Kathryn Dane knocking the ball forward under pressure close to the Welsh line.
Two substitutes are made for the Irish side in the 49th minute as Fiona Reidy goes off for Laura Feely and Nicole Fowley for Ellen Murphy with another blood substitution in the 53rd minute as Claire McLaughlin goes off for Edel McMahon.
Nicole Cronin also comes in to scrumhalf to add some intensity to the Irish side in the final quarter but Wales still seem comfortable as their opponents pose no real threat to their scoreline.
Welsh winger Jasmin Joyce, who had an outstanding game, comes close to scoring but is foiled by the scrambling defence.
Ill-discipline from the Irish side at the breakdown and scrum again provided an attacking option for Wales and they take full advantage with a try in the 68th minute. Bethan Lewis crossing after a big push from the pack effort, taking the score to 19-5.
Ireland’s Emma Hooban comes on in the 70th minute for Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird and Wales empty their bench on the 72nd minute.
A line break by Nicole Cronin in the last five minutes is turned over in the Welsh 22 for Wales to storm upfield for a try from the standout player, Jasmin Joyce, who ran it in from her own 22. This puts Wales three scores clear at 24-5.
The match is concluded with an Irish penalty that doesn’t find touch and is then kicked out by Wales – a symbol of the Irish performance today in Arm’s Park.
Both teams put up a fight but it was the Welsh domination in the set piece that won the battle. Ireland’s lack of focus at the breakdown allowed Wales to capitalise on quick turnovers which they exploited using their pace on the wings. The momentum just never seemed to pick up for the Irish side which resulted in a deserved 24-5 win for the home team.
Wales Women: Lauren Smyth, Jasmine Joyce, Hannah Jones, Lleucu George, Jess Kavanagh, Elinor Snowsill, Keira Bevan, Caryl Thomas, Carys Phillips (c), Amy Evans, Gwen Crabb, Mel Clay, Alisha Butchers, Bethan Lewis, Siwan Lillicrap. Replacements: Kelsey Jones, Cara Hope, Cerys Hale, Alex Callender, Manon Johnes, Ffion Lewis, Robyn Wilkins, Lisa Neumann.
Ireland Women: Lauren Delany, Eimear Considine, Enya Breen, Sene Naoupu, Beibhinn Parsons, Nicole Fowley, Kathryn Dane, Lindsay Peat, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Fiona Reidy, Aoife McDermott, Nichola Fryday, Ciara Griffin (c), Claire Molloy, Claire McLaughlin. Replacements: Emma Hooban, Linda Djougang, Laura Feely, Edel McMahon, Anna Caplice, Nicole Cronin, Ellen Murphy, Laura Sheehan.