Ireland still a ‘work in progress’ says Griggs after shock first loss to Italy
Women’s Six Nations
Ireland women’s head coach Adam Griggs accepted his side are a “work in progress” following Saturday’s shock Six Nations defeat to Italy in Parma.
Despite coming away with two bonus points – Eimear Considine (two), Anna Caplice and Laura Sheehan all had tries – they couldn’t deny the Azzurre a maiden victory over the Irish at this level.
“If you don’t make your tackles and you don’t defend, and you don’t get up off the ground with urgency, a good side like Italy are going to punish you. That what they did to us,” said Griggs.
“We’re still building and we’re a work in progress. We’ll focus on one thing and we get that right, then we kind of forget about the other things. That’s a part of the building process obviously. As a coach and definitely as a playing group, we want to be more consistent with what we’re doing well and then keep those improvements coming. Unfortunately tonight, we just let that slip here in Parma.”
The foundations for Italy’s groundbreaking success were forged in a storming opening to the contest. After Michela Sillari slotted an early penalty, Giada Franco off-loaded to Aura Muzzo for a converted try. While Considine superbly gathered Nicole Fowley’s cross-field pass to touch down on the right-flank, Franco grabbed a second Italian try on 14 minutes.
Either side of a Fowley penalty, Considine and Anna Caplice conjured five-pointers to turn the tie on its head. This looked like being enough to give Ireland an interval buffer until Sofia Stefan pounced to bring the sides back level (22-22).
Following a superb Muzzo carry 10 minutes after the restart, Franco pounced for her second try of the night. Another Silari conversion moved Italy seven clear, before Ireland gave themselves a potential lifeline in the final quarter. Another precise Fowley kick provided the platform for Sheehan to ground on her Six Nations debut. Even though the subsequent bonus strike by Fowley was wide of the mark, Ireland remained in the hunt for a second consecutive win.
It wasn’t to be, though, and Italy held out for a thoroughly deserved triumph.
Scorers for Italy: G Franco 2 tries, A Muzzo, S Stefan try each, M Sillari pen, 3 cons.
Scorers for Ireland: E Considine 2 tries, A Caplice, L Sheehan try each, N Fowley pen, 2 cons.
ITALY: M Furlan; A Muzzo, M Sillari, B Rigoni, S Stefan; V Madia, S Barattin; G Giacomoli, M Bettoni, L Gai; V Fedrighi, G Duca; I Arrighetti, G Franco, E Giordano.
Replacements: V Ruzza for Fedrighi (h-t), S Turani for Giacomoli (65), L Cammarano for Arrighetti (76).
IRELAND: L Delany; E Considine, S Naoupu, M Claffey, A Miller; N Fowley, K Dane; L Feely, E Hooban, L Lyons; A McDermott, N Fryday; A Caplice, C Molloy, C Griffin.
Replacements: L Sheehan for Claffey (38), D Nic A Bhaird for Hooban, L Peat for Feely, F Reidy for Lyons (all 51), C Boles for Caplice (65).
Referee: L Pettingale (England).