Women Six Nations: Ireland 15 Scotland 14

Published Categorised as 2020-21, International Rugby Women, Ireland Women, Scotland Women, Six Nations Women Tagged , , , , ,
Ireland stun Scotland at the death to win 15-14 in thw Women's 6 Nations

The first stand alone Women’s Six Nations came to it’s finale in Belfast on Saturday night with a last minute win for Ireland against Scotland. The result sees Ireland finish in 4th spot though it would have been last place if Enya Breen’s last minute conversion hadn’t gone over! Such are the margins in international rugby.

2022 Women Six Nations Final Standings.

It wasn’t a tournament where I was expecting much. Most of the teams were getting their act together post Covid and, with the exception of Ireland, they were all looking at their squads ahead of the 2021 World Cup, which kicks off in October 2022. Ireland’s priorities were to rebuild, under new coach Greg McWilliams, after one of the most unsuccessful periods in their history.

From my point of view, the rebuilding got off to a slow start. Seven, 7s players were used in the first three games which was a waste of playing time in my book. Nothing was learnt and all it did was restrict the game time of genuine XV players like Vicky Irwin and Enya Breen, plus a whole host of others who didn’t even make it into the 7s rich training squads.

By hook or by crook Ireland arrived at something like a XV’s side by their final match. Still plenty of players to look at but the match winning performance from Neve Jones and the excellent debut from Vicky Irwin, both from the most underperforming Province in Ireland, should give McWilliams some reassurance that there are quite a few players out there capable of stepping up. I can think of at least another four from Ulster and I’m sure there are equal numbers of overlooked players in Munster and Connacht.

Scotland’s Evie Gallagher gets over for an early try.

The game didn’t start well for Ireland, who went behind to an Evie Gallagher try after three minutes after a line out maul from the Scots. However, in a scrappy first half full of mistakes Ireland pulled back three points from the monster boot of Hannah O’Connor on the quarter hour and the hosts took an unlikely lead into the break when Neve Jones crashed over at the bottom of a lineout maul in the closing minutes of the half.

Neve Jones goes over for Ireland at the end of the first half.

The maul went in from quite some distance out but there was no one getting their hands on the ball at the back as Jones was determined to get it over the line at her home stadium.

Scotland showed the better composure at the start of the second half and they picked up three penalties from the boot of Helen Nelson to take an 8 – 14 lead at the start of the final quarter.

Ireland showed plenty of heart but the Scottish defence looked to have their number as the clock ticked down towards the final whistle. However, a late charge down by Jones raised Ireland for one last effort and they kept Scotland pinned in their red zone in their closing minutes.

Ireland Ireland celebrate Enya Breen’s late try.

A high tackle from Scotland put Ireland in the right area, with a lineout maul, and after a couple of phases the ball made it to Enya Breen who crashed over near to the posts to take the score to 13 – 14 three minutes into extra time. Breen kept her nerve for the conversion, slotting it over for the one point win much to the delight of her teammates and the partisan home crowd.

Enya Breen is hoisted by her teammates after knocking over the winning conversion.

It might not have been Champagne rugby, in difficult conditions, but there were a lot of young girls in the crowd who will remember the excitement of this game at Ravenhill for a good few years to come. Definitely something to build on.

IRELAND: Vicky Irwin, Aoife Doyle, Sene Naoupu, Enya Breen, Molly Scuffil-McCabe, Nikki Caughey, Kathryn Dane, Linda Djougang, Neve Jones, Christy Haney, Nichola Fryday (C), Sam Monaghan, Dorothy Wall, Edel McMahon, Hannah O’Connor. Replacements: Katie O’Dwyer, Emma Hooban, Chloe Pearse, Aoife McDermott, Grace Moore, Ailsa Hughes, Michelle Claffey, Maeve Óg O’Leary.

SCOTLAND WOMEN: Chloe Rollie, Rhona Lloyd, Lisa Thomson, Helen Nelson, Shona Campbell, Sarah Law, Caity Mattinson, Molly Wright, Lana Skeldon, Christine Belisle, Emma Wassell, Sarah Bonar, Rachel Malcolm (C), Rachel McLachlan, Evie Gallagher. Replacements: Emma Orr, Megan Gaffney, Louise McMillan, Leah Bartlett, Jodie Rettie, Katie Dougan, Eva Donaldson, Mairi McDonald.

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Over 200 images by Bob Given Photography

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