Ireland started like a house on fire but the flame very nearly burnt out as they were pushed all the way by Scotland in a pulsating clash at Energia Park.
In the end, Béibhinn Parsons’ intercept try in the final 10 minutes proved to be the difference as Adam Griggs’ side held firm amidst a blaze of Scottish pressure in Donnybrook.
While Scotland had the better of the exchanges in the second half, Ireland’s defence must be commended and they were indeed full value for their win. One of the stars of the show was number eight Anna Caplice who could hardly contain her delight after the match.
When asked whether there was a sense of relief following the 18-14 victory, Caplice paid tribute to match-winner Parsons who, at just 18, looks to have a great future ahead of her.
“It was brilliant, really tough. And we knew it would be. We just dug our heels in. We were determined to keep them out towards the end,” said Caplice.
“Beibhinn, after defending our own line for so long. Beibhinn!
— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) February 2, 2020
“We built it into our defence that, if the intercept was on, our quick girls could go for that intercept and Beibhinn had the confidence to do it and the legs to go all the way.
“She did us all so proud.”
Despite the win, there is plenty for Ireland to work with their penalty count extremely high compared to Scotland’s.
Caplice feels that the new defensive system they are working on lent itself to some of the penalties that went against them.
She’s fully aware that improvements need to be made ahead of next week, however, a visibly delighted Caplice made it clear that she’d rather win and make mistakes than not have anything to work on at all.
“We were giving away a lot of penalties. We had to work on our discipline, take an extra step at the back of the ruck. Scotland were smart and made the ruck longer and called us offside. So we had to work even harder.
“With the defensive system we’re working in, to get off the line quickly we have to take the extra step to make sure we’re not coming offside.
“We’re disappointed with (the offside penalties), but I was saying inside I’d prefer to win ugly and have a list of things to work on.”
Caplice continued by saying that nothing can prepare you for the white heat of Test rugby and that they as a group knew that Scotland were coming to Dublin to win this afternoon.
“You train all through January and, yes we had a warm-up game, but nothing tests you like a Test. We’ve so much to work on so we’ll take the win.
“We knew Scotland weren’t coming to mess around. We weren’t expecting a wash-out, they have some brilliant players.”
Taking discipline issues out of it, it was a fantastic Irish display and one that will come as a huge boost to this side going forward. Again, the crowd in Donnybrook was electric and in many ways, helped push Ireland over the line.
Caplice wants to recreate that environment for the visit of Wales next weekend.
“Today was just so enjoyable. The crowd were just buzzing.
“I was almost thinking to myself, thinking of my friends ‘why aren’t they here, why aren’t my whole extended family here, why isn’t everyone here!’ This is unbelievable, just as entertaining as the men’s game and good quality too.
“That’s my plea to everyone to come out, get into the stands and sell it out completely.”