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A True Upset – Spain Triumph

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Spain achieved what few expected of them. In a thrillingly tight match they nudged ahead in the closing minutes to give the Irish a mountain to climb.

Spain started well too. Patricia Garcia’s kick-off was knocked on. At the resultant scrum they rocked the opposition back with apparent ease. Ireland may have introduced lots of new talent to the back-line, but their pack was well established, and even its newer additions, Brittany Hogan and Dorothy Wall, are highly regarded, so this was a shock.

Spain should have moved into an early lead, but Garcia pulled a penalty from in front. That was to set the tone for the match: points were to prove very hard to come by.

Spain won a free-kick at the next scrum, then Ireland infringed again on their own 22. Garcia didn’t miss this one. (3-0)

Ireland were much happier when a fluent move saw a cut-out pass to Beibhinn Parsons give her all the room she needed (about five millimetres) to round her opponent and score. (3-7)

The game continued at pace, but neither side could retain possession long enough to make it count. Spain were on the wrong end of the whistle many times; perhaps the result of having played so many games in the European Championship where they met less pressure on the ball.

Still, Ireland’s promising back-line, with the addition of major figures from the world of Sevens, couldn’t thread their way through.

Spain made two dangerous attacks, but both ended with a ‘holding on’ decision. Another fine raid was halted only by a last-minute tackle by Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe forcing Maria Garcia into touch just short of the line.

The Irish knew that had a real contest on their hands. They responded with an all-out attack. It finished with Nikki O’Donnell offering the skipper, Ciara Griffin, no fewer than three choices for a penalty in the red zone. But as they bundled over the line the decision was ‘held up’.

So the half finished 7-3 to the Irish.

Whatever Adam Griggs suggested to his girls in green, it didn’t seem to work. They laboured to put their speedy back-3 away, and the forwards couldn’t retain momentum long enough to threaten the line.

For long periods the game was halted by annoyingly frequent blasts on the whistle. Players were guilty of careless infringements that broke up the rhythm of play and kept the score low.

That worked to Spain’s advantage; they never felt the Irish were taking the game away from them. They tackled and scrummaged hard, and showed resourcefulness in attack that sometimes matched the Italians in the earlier match. They set up a rolling maul that sent the Irish back many a mile. It resulted in the inevitable yellow card, then a kick to the corner, then, astonishingly, a penalty to the defenders under their posts.

The blow fell with ten minutes to go. Spain were awarded yet another penalty after Ireland had cleared their lines. This time they reacted at once with a tap. The ball was spun left for Eva Aguirre to go over in the corner. (8-7)

This was the horror show for the Irish. They had ten minutes to put things straight, but they couldn’t find the magic touch to construct another score. The final straw saw them concede yet another penalty and a Spanish boot hoofed the ball to kingdom come. Great was the rejoicing.

The inquests will start.

How was it possible for the hotly fancied Irish squad to manage only a single score? It was a fine Parsons try, as you might expect, but what else was there? Well, there was plenty of arm-waving and ref-querying from Lindsay Peat, who gave away a host of penalties. She is a character, but at 40 years of age she might have spent more time concentrating on staying within the laws and helping her side to victory.

Ireland now need to ensure they achieve two clear-cut victories against Scotland and Italy. They beat both of them last season, but Italy did concede ground advantage to them so that the game could go ahead. On current form you can’t be sure Ireland will achieve a double against them.



15 Eimear Considine
14 Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe
13 Lucy Mulhall
12 Sene Naoupu
11 Beibhinn Parsons
10 Stacey Flood
9 Kathryn Dane
1 Lindsay Peat
2 Cliodhna Moloney
3 Linda Djougang
4 Aoife McDermott
5 Nicola Fryday
6 Dorothy Wall
7 Ciara Griffin (captain)
8 Brittany Hogan


16 Neve Jones
17 Laura Feely
18 Leah Lyons
19 Sam Monaghan
20 Edel McMahon
21 Emily Lane
22 Enya Breen
23 Lauren Delany


15 Iera Echebarria
14 Bea Dominguez
13 Amara Erbina
12 Amalia Argudo
11 Maria Garcia
10 Anne Fernandez de Corres
9 Patricia Garcia
1 Saloa Jaurena
2 Margarita Rodriguez
3 Laura Delgado (captain)
4 Anna Puig
5 Monica Castelo
6 Olivia Fresneda
7 Maria Calvo
8 Lourdes Alameda


16 Isabel Rico
17 Cristina Blanco
18 Maika Brust
19 Carmen Castellucci
20 Carmen Rodera
21 Lucia Diaz
22 Lea Ducher
23 Eva Aguirre