Ireland started their 2021 Six Nations campaign with a record breaking 0 – 45 win against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday afternoon.
A strong start saw Ireland race to a 24 – 0 lead in the first quarter with a brace from Eimear Considine and Beibhinn Parsons. Sene Naoupu added a fifth before the break.
Wales showed more resistance in the second half but two late tries from, the impressive Dorothy Wall and Hannah Tyrrell, Tyrrell adding five conversions throughout the game.
It’s been a disappointing tournament. Instead of showcasing the women’s game it has only served to highlight the gulf that exists across supposedly “elite” sides with an average of 58 points conceded across the four games played so far. Such uneven playing fields are not good for any of the sides.
Wales (0) 0
Ireland (31) 45
TRY: Eimear Considine (2), Beibhinn Parsons (2) Sene Naoupu, Dorothy Wall, Hannah Tyrrell.
CON: Hannah Tyrrell (5)
Ireland brushed off the cobwebs fairly quickly and it was a good team effort for the opening score, a series of drives finished off with Kathryn Dane sending Considine over out wide.
A strong run from Parsons was enough to see her through a fairly lack luster defence, for her first score, and she followed it up minutes later with a simple catch, of a kick pass by Tyrrell, out wide. Tyrrell converted the first and Ireland led 0 – 17.
Considine competed her brace with a run from midfield, the Welsh defence in disarray and, with Tyrrell adding the conversion, Ireland led 0 – 24 after 17 minutes.
Wales were outgunned and disorganised in most areas of the pitch but, despite some strong individual plays, Ireland lost their shape and cohesion in a scrappy second quarter. However a scrum in the Welsh 22 saw Dane draw the defence to put Naoupu through with consummate ease. Tyrrell converted to give Ireland a 0 – 31 lead at the break.
The hosts came out with a bit more intent in the second half and Ireland struggled to find their shape in a very scrappy third quarter. However, their dominance of the scrums, lineouts and the hard working Wall, Aoife McDermott and Claire Molloy kept them pointing in the right direction.
Ireland roused themselves for a final flourish and Wall capped a fine personal performance with a try out wide on the 71st minute, after McDermott had come close, and Tyrrell increased her personal haul to 15 points with a converted try in the final play.
Ireland’s substitutions saw debuts for Stacey Flood and Emily Lane. Ulster’s Brittany Hogan got 20 minutes and Neve Jones came on for the final 10.
WALES: Robyn Wilkins, Lisa Neumann, Hannah Jones, Kerin Lake, Courtney Keight, Elinor Snowsill, Jess Roberts, Cara Hope, Kelsey Jones, Cerys Hale, Natalia John, Gwen Crabb, Georgia Evans, Manon Johnes, Siwan Lillicrap (C). Replacements. Molly Kelly, Caryl Thomas, Donna Rose, Teleri Wyn Davies, Bethan Dainton, Megan Davies, Niamh Terry, Caitlin Lewis.
IRELAND: Eimear Considine, Lauren Delany, Eve Higgins, Sene Naoupu, Beibhinn Parsons, Hannah Tyrrell, Kathryn Dane, Lindsay Peat, Cliodhna Moloney, Linda Djougang, Aoife McDermott, Nichola Fryday, Dorothy Wall, Claire Molloy, Ciara Griffin (C) Replacements: Neve Jones, Katie O’Dwyer, Laura Feely, Brittany Hogan, Hannah O’Connor, Emily Lane, Stacey Flood, Enya Breen.
Ireland face France next week to decide the winner of Pool B, who will go forward for a final week showdown against England. I would guess Ireland would have preferred a stronger test than this one but, if they can keep their shape for longer periods, they have a chance of causing an upset.