Ireland 24 – 14 Japan
Ireland secured a narrow victory over Japan and in doing so, avoided what would have likely been the biggest upset of this year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup.
The home side were desperate in the first half, a littering of unforced errors and indiscipline kept handing back the initiative to the Japanese. But that should take nothing away from an incredible Japanese display. The underdogs had a dominant scrum and they moved the ball swiftly through the backline and Ireland had no answer to this.
Two Japenese tries in the first half had Ireland at a huge disadvantage going into the second half and things got worse for the Irish when Katie Fitzhenry was yellow carded for a high tackle. It wasn’t a challenge which warranted a yellow, but it was the fourth high tackle from Ireland in the game and the referee had was warned Ireland previously.
In typical Irish fashion, the home side battled back with the numerical disadvantage and brought it back to a one score game when Alison Miller went over from close range and Nora Stapleton converted.
Ireland’s rolling maul proved a real weapon in the second half and they used this to great effect as Paula Fitzpatrick went over for Ireland’s second try. Stapleton converted and all of a sudden it was a tied game.
It was the Japanese who then started to make mistakes and Ireland took advantage of some indiscipline at ruck time as Stapleton added a penalty to put in Ireland into the lead after 73 minutes, the first time they were in front for the entire game.
Ireland did excellently towards the end of the game as they kept the ball in hand and after a remarkable 30+ phases, Fitzpatrick went over for another try which Stapleton converted.
A huge let off for the Irish who will need to get better if they are to beat the French on Thursday and keep their dreams of reaching the semi-finals alive.
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