Source: 6 Nations

Ireland on the mend – and how!

  • +1

Ireland v Scotland
Kingspan Stadium, Belfast

The tightness of the score tells us much of what was at stake in Belfast. World Cup qualification and WXV standings mean a lot to people.

Dannah O’Brien made clear from the start how Ireland were planning domination: through her boot. She sent a kick very high and the Scots fumbled as it returned from cloud level. They conceded a penalty. Despite early rain, the speed of recycling showed up the earlier game in Cardiff.

Ireland made a costly error at a kick-ahead; Aoibheann Reilly was caught way off-side, Lisa Thomson kicked deep to the rtight corner, and Elis Martin, a late replacement for Lana Skeldon, finished a drive. 0-5.

But then Scotland suffered a blow when Caity Mattinson was left lying on the floor. There followed a long break as she was ministered to with the greatest care, then wheeled off the pitch on a trolley. We wish her all the best.

As the rain teemed down, O’Brien was winning the battle of the boot over Helen Nelson. She varied her choices cleverly, showing a mastery given to few of her age. And, like so many No 10s, she keeps her face entirely expressionless. Nor did she neglect to feed her backs. One of her kicks off the tee was from the edge: it was to prove vital to success.

It was a close battle. A dangerous break by Béibhinn Parsons, full of evil intent, was halted by a strong tackle from Louise McMillan. Scotland had the edge at the set-scrum, but Parsons, Linda Djougang and Neve Jones were just three Irish players to catch the eye with their enterprising play.

There can be no doubt: the Irish are rebuilding into something closer to the great side of a decade ago.
On the half-hour they came close to scoring. A nearly perfect rolling maul saw Jones halted on the line.

A drop-out was ordered.

The Irish suffered a series of close calls before the break. Rachel Malcolm was given a team warning, despite her repeated efforts to bend the referee’s ear.

Half-time 0-5

Now it was Scott Bemand’s turn to suggest to his team ways to complete these promising moves. At least the sun came out to welcome them on their return.

Whatever was said inside, it worked like a charm. Ireland played past an advantage, using quick hands. The ball finished with Katie Corrigan, who is making a habit of scoring for her team. 5-5

Now Cliodhna Moloney appeared, complete with black eye. But for the moment the Scots got into their stride. Lisa Thomson was twice involved in a productive move; first she made a telling break, then was on the end of quick passes that offered her a gap to exploit. 5-12

The next ten minutes were full of action and drama. Despite missing two line-outs Ireland still advanced. Eve Higgins, a constant danger in the centre, made a break to gain a penalty. The referee rejected Sam Monaghan’s urgent request for something more extreme, but she had her reward with a perfect line-out take, followed by a catch-and-drive – try Moloney. 12-12

It was going to be one of those games! Gentle advice: wait patiently for a score. Best to sit on your hands to prevent the lure of nail-biting.

A draw would leave the Scots in third place, the Irish fourth.

As the last quarter arrived, Méabh Deely fielded a long kick and sent Parsons on her way 30 metres from her own line. She wasn’t halted till inside the Scottish 22. The game maintained its dizzy toing and froing till the end. A Scottish overthrow saw Moloney travel deep into their territory. Thomson kept thrusting the Scots forward with her educated right boot. Twice the Irish were undone by holding-on decisions, just as they seemed to be within reach of a decider.

A Scottish line-out throw looked decidedly wonky, but neither the referee not the nearer AR agreed. It was Monaghan’s turn to bend the official’s ear – to no effect, bar a sweet smile.

The game was finally decided when Ireland won a penalty in front. No question this time of kicking for the corner and hoping. O’Brien, a young woman who seems incapable of nerves, nailed the kicked to edge her side home. Belfast whooped.

Their team had ensured qualification for the World Cup!

So that was two matches finishing with a total margin of five points. For those of a fragile heart, the hope had to be for a decisive win one way or the other in Bordeaux. But the sides involved aren’t very good at one-way traffic. More drama lies in wait.

Result: Ireland 15 Scotland 12


15 Méabh Deely 14 Katie Corrigan 13 Eve Higgins 12 Enya Breen 11 Béibhinn Parsons 10 Dannah O’Brien 9 Aoibheann Reilly 1 Linda Djougang 2 Neve Jones 3 Christy Haney 4 Dorothy Wall 5 Sam Monaghan (co-captain) 6 Aoife Wafer 7 Edel McMahon (co-captain) 8 Brittany Hogan

16 Cliodhna Moloney 17 Niamh O’Dowd 18 Sadhbh McGrath 19 Fiona Tuite 20 Shannon Ikahihifo 21 Molly Scuffil-McCabe 22 Aoife Dalton 23 *Katie Heffernan
*uncapped player

15 Meryl Smith 14 Coreen Grant 13 Emma Orr 12 Lisa Thomson 11 Francesca McGhie 10 Helen Nelson 9 Caity Mattinson 1 Molly Wright 2 Elis Martin 3 Christine Belisle 4 Emma Wassell 5 Louise McMillan 6 Rachel Malcolm (captain) 7 Alex Stewart 8 Evie Gallagher

16 Elis Martin 17 Leah Bartlett 18 Elliann Clarke 19 Eva Donaldson 20 Rachel McLachlan 21 Mairi McDonald 22 *Cieron Bell 23 *Nicole Flynn

Note: Lana Skeldon was a late injury, replaced by Elis Martin.

Referee: Natarsha Ganley (NZR)
ARs: Aurélie Groizeleau (FFR) and Holly Wood (RFU) TMO: Dan Jones (RFU)

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *