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Parsons & Naoupu Blend Youth With Experience As Ireland Claim Win

ireland women scotland women

Ireland Women 18 – 14 Scotland Women

Michael Corry reporting from Energia Park.

Ireland were pushed all the way by Scotland in Donnybrook this afternoon with an intercept try from 18-year-old Béibhinn Parsons proving vital come the end of the game. 

In truth, it was a game of two halves as Ireland dominated the first while Scotland held the upper hand for most of the second half. Adam Griggs’ side will have felt let down by the concession of a try on the stroke of half-time to let Scotland back in but overall, their defence held strong against a game Scottish side.

ireland women scotland women

Edel McMahon was named player of the match following the win but Ireland mixed experience with youth perfectly throughout. Sene Naoupu (who turns 36 today) was everywhere scoring a try and making a bucket-load of tackles while Lindsay Peat showed exactly why she was one of the most dominant front-row forwards in the game.

However, when the chips were down with ten minutes to go it was the youth who shone through as Parsons’ runaway try sealed a great win on home soil.

The game started at a frenetic pace with Scotland looking to exert their dominance early on. Just as the away side looked to break down the left-wing, Béibhinn Parsons executed a great recovery tackle and from the recycled ball, Scotland lost possession when hooker Cliodhna Moloney forced a turnover much to the home crowd’s delight.

From here, Ireland were in the ascendency as Ellen Murphy kicked to touch to give them great field position. From the lineout, Lindsay Peat carried strongly before Anna Caplice made a great line break and looked to be heading for the posts.

ireland women scotland women

Eventually, she was stopped as Ireland looked the spread the ball wide. They had a three-player overlap but failed to execute. They did win a penalty following a Scottish offside which was converted by Murphy to put Ireland on the board.

Scotland came right back at Ireland and looked to be in a strong position but great defensive work from Ireland saw turn defence into attack once again.

After going through the phases, the ball eventually made its way to Moloney out on the wing and the hooker made no mistake bulldozing her way over in the corner to extend Ireland’s lead to eight with 10 minutes played.

The try seemed to settle any Irish nerves, while Scotland seemed slightly bewildered to be behind so soon. The away defence looked sloppy and disjointed and Ireland took full advantage with Peat showing all the skills the made her a star in both basketball and Gaelic football to dance her way through tackles.

A second try looked inevitable and it eventually came. Captain, Ciara Griffin looked to be the one going over but she was held up. Ireland reset and managed to find Sene Naoupu who ghosted over the line to extend Ireland’s lead after a quarter of an hour.

ireland women scotland women

Midway through the half and Scotland seemed to have finally found some rhythm with a couple of fantastically executed lineouts. However, just when it seemed to be going so well for them, they botched a five-metre lineout that allowed Ireland to turn over the ball and rid themselves of any danger.

Moloney continued to be Ireland’s standout player of the half, again turning over Scotland who were in a strong field position. However, the hooker’s involvement was cut short after 27 minutes when a nasty clash of heads saw her withdrawn from the game.

While it may have been an early bath for the Wasps star, she could leave the field with her head held high having scored a brilliant try, forced two turnovers and carried extremely well throughout her cameo performance.

ireland women scotland women

With the minutes ticking down towards the half, Scotland began to gain the upper hand, particularly in the scrum, however, they couldn’t manage to convert their purple patch into points. They were nearly punished by Ireland who could have got a third try following a brilliant move involving Lauren Delaney, Linda Djougang and Naoupu only to be penalised for a forward pass with the try-line in sight.

The error came back to haunt them moments later when Scotland looked to gain some momentum heading into half-time. After a sustained period of pressure, the Scots got their just rewards when Lisa Thomson went through to touch down for the away side and leave Helen Nelson with the chance to close the half with a confidently taken conversion.

ireland women scotland women

Ireland looked to halt the momentum gained by Scotland before half-time with a blistering start to the second half. Delany showed why she’s the form full-back in the country with a beautiful break moments after the whistle, however, Scotland hung on and made their intentions clear that Ireland would have to work for victory in Donnybrook.

The opening 10 minutes of the second half saw momentum shift back and forth as both sides looked to get the next points on the board, there was a feeling that the next score would prove vital, something that was clearly felt by the players on the pitch.

Naoupu continued her form from the first half throwing in tackle after tackle while Peat continued to leave Scottish hearts in mouths every time she carried the ball.

ireland women scotland women

Scotland edged into Ireland’s half with some brilliant running by Megan Gaffney who offloaded beautifully in the tackle to Chloe Rollie who ran an excellent line. Ireland looked under pressure as Scotland entered their 22. However, Naoupu saved their blushes with a great recovery tackle to stop Jade Konkel who looked destined for the line.

As the game entered the final quarter the score remained 13-7. However, it was Scotland who had the better of the exchanges throughout the second-half. Rollie continued to threaten the Irish backfield with some powerful running but, much like their men’s side yesterday, they seemed to lack a cutting edge.

ireland women scotland women

They did, however, look the most like to score. However, following a 10-minute spell of relentless pressure, Béibhinn Parsons stepped up when needed for Ireland. Scotland looked to spread it wide and score, only for Parsons to step up to claim a vital interception and run in from all of 90 metres to score.

Just as they had shown all game, Scotland refused to wilt and came back at Ireland with force. An impressive break from Rhona Lloyd looked to have set them up to score and ensure a tense finish but Naoupu, yet again, produced when it mattered with a great recovering tackle.

Scotland did get over the line again through Emma Wassell before hooker, Lana Skeldon converted a tough kick to set-up a nervy finish for the home side. However, it was Ireland who held on with Linda Djougang’s turnover at the death helping them claim an opening day victory on a scoreline of 18-14.

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Ireland:

Lauren Delany; Aoife Doyle (Ciara Cooney ’66), Sene Naoupu, Michelle Claffey, Béibhinn Parsons; Ellen Murphy (Claire Keohane ’69), Kathryn Dane (Nicole Cronin ’56); Lindsay Peat (Laura Feely ’57), Cliodhna Moloney (Victoria Dabanovich O’Mahony ’27), Linda Djougang (Leah Lyons ’54); Aoife McDermott, Nichola Fryday; Ciara Griffin (c) (Dorothy Wall HT), Edel McMahon, Anna Caplice.

Replacements:

Victoria Dabanovich O’Mahony, Laura Feely, Leah Lyons, Ciara Cooney, Dorothy Wall, Nicole Cronin, Claire Keohane, Laura Sheehan.

Scotland:

Chloe Rollie; Rhona Lloyd, Hannah Smith, Lisa Thomson, Megan Gaffney; Helen Nelson(Sarah Law ’50), Mairi McDonald; Leah Bartlett (Lisa Cockburn ’62), Lana Skeldon, Mairi Forsyth; Emma Wassell, Sarah Bonar; Rachel Malcolm (c) (Louise McMillan ’69), Rachel McLachlan (Siobhan Cattigan ’56), Jade Konkel.

Replacements:

Molly Wright, Panashe Muzambe, Lisa Cockburn, Siobhan Cattigan, Louise McMillan, Sarah Law, Evie Tonkin, Alex Wallace.

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