Women’s International: Defeat for disappointing Ireland as late score earns Wales victory
By Daire Walsh
Ireland’s search for a maiden November Women’s International victory continues after they suffered an agonising defeat to Wales in the UCD Bowl on Sunday afternoon.
Adam Griggs’ charges looked set to hold out for their first Autumn Series triumph in seven attempts when Ellen Murphy knocked over a 74th-minute penalty. However, there was enough time for Wales’ replacement scrum-half Keira Bevan to strike a decisive blow deep into second-half stoppage-time.
Following a disappointing Six Nations campaign, Ireland were aiming to end 2019 on a high. Instead of opting for the posts off a succession of early penalties, out-half Murphy kicked to touch in a bid to create a set-piece platform.
While this didn’t paid dividends, the hosts ultimately broke the deadlock on 19 minutes. Full-back Eimear Considine embarked on a weaving run through the heart of the Welsh defence and was hauled down just shy of the whitewash.
The ball was quickly recycled to the left of the posts, where Cameroon-born prop Linda Djougang was on hand to power over for her first international try.
Wales started to find their feet as the action progressed, but disciplined Irish defence ensured they were kept at bay until the interval.
Whereas the opening period struggled to catch fire, a pulsating start to the second period brought much-needed life to the proceedings. Capitalising on impressive build-up play by Considine and Murphy, Skibbereen’s Enya Breen found herself in space on the left-flank.
She feigned a pass out wide to Beibhinn Parsons – and evaded a Kayleigh Powell tackle – on her way to grabbing Ireland’s second unconverted try. Wales refused to give in, though, and immediately responded with a coolly-struck Robyn Wilkins penalty.
Moving into the final-quarter, lively replacement Sioned Harries crashed over via a line-out move and Wilkins’ bonus strike brought her side back on level terms.
Murphy’s routine place-kick looked set to hand Ireland a morale-boosting success only for Bevan to snatch the spoils with a last-gasp finish off an attacking maul.
Scorers for Ireland: L Djougang, E Breen try each, E Murphy pen.
Scorers for Wales: S Harries, K Bevan try each, R Wilkins pen, con.
IRELAND: E Considine; L Delany, E Breen, S Naoupu, B Parsons; E Murphy, N Cronin; L Feely, C Moloney, L Djougang; N Fryday, J Bobbett; C Griffin, E McMahon, A Caplice.
Replacements: H O’Connor for Bobbett (49), V Dabanovich-O’Mahony for Moloney, AM O’Hora for Feely, K Dane for Cronin (all 52), N Ní Dhroma for Caplice (66), M Claffey for Breen (67).
WALES: K Powell; P Randall, A Donovan, R Wilkins, C Keight; E Snowsill, F Lewis; G Pyrs, K Jones, A Evans; N John, G Crabb; A Callender, B Lewis, S Lillicrap.
Replacements: K Bevan for F Lewis (53), R Lock for Callender, M Webb for Donovan (both 58), S Harries for John (64), C Phillips for Jones, C Hale for Evans (both 69), R O’Loughlin for Randall (76).
Referee: R Mahoney (New Zealand).