Ireland’s Women’s side chalked up their first ever win over Scotland in the Six Nations, and their first in this year’s tournament, as they ran three tries past their hosts in Edinburgh on Saturday.
WOMEN’S SIX NATIONS: Saturday, March 10
SCOTLAND WOMEN 6 IRELAND WOMEN 18, Meggetland, Boroughmuir RFC
Scorers: Scotland: Pens: Lynsey Harley 2
Ireland: Tries: Sarahjane Belton, Jeannette Feighery, Lynne Cantwell; Pen: Jo O’Sullivan
Full-back and captain Sarahjane Belton got the first on the half-hour mark when she cut past two tacklers to show while Scottish prop Beth Dickens was in the sin-bin.
Jo O’Sullivan had hit an earlier penalty, which was cancelled out by two Lynsey Harley strikes, as the visitors led 8-6 at the break. Avenging their 11-10 defeat at September’s World Cup, the Irish grabbed further tries through winger Jeannette Feighery and centre Lynne Cantwell.
Belton kicked off for Ireland and John O’Sullivan’s side made the better start with scrum half Louise Beamish and Feighery showing well in the loose and Caroline Mahon and Orla Brennan shining at lineout time.
The Irish hit the front in the eleventh-minute when Belton kicked a penalty to touch in the Scots’ 22, Brennan took lineout ball and O’Sullivan put Geri Healy into space before the home side infringed. O’Sullivan landed the kick for a 3-0 lead.
Ireland were unfortunate not to make full use of a fantastic break down the left flank by Grace Davitt, there were plenty of attacking situations for the Irish to strike from but Scotland manage to equalise when Harley fired over from in front of the posts.
Persistent infringing saw Scotland then lose Dickens to the sin bin in the 25th-minute, and Ireland made use of their numerical advantage as Cantwell produced a great tackle and turnover, the backs then ferried the ball out to Belton who darted 20 metres to the line for her try.
Only a try-saving tackle from Harley stopped the elusive Feighery, who was Ireland’s outstanding player in the first half, from going over soon after for a second Irish try. Harley landed a 38th-minute penalty to cut the gap to 8-6.
Ireland had their hard-working hooker Jess Limbert yellow carded just before the break for hands in the ruck. Ireland were on the back foot for the early part of the second half but defended well and the quick-thinking and attacking ability of Belton gave them the confidence to see out the win.
Good ball presentation from the backs put Feighery over for a fine try to run Ireland’s tally up to 13. Cantwell’s score soon followed as Feighery romped her way through the Scottish defence to be stopped five metres out, the ball was quickly recycled by the forwards and Richmond star Cantwell muscled her way over from close range.
Ireland saw out a memorable win with considerable ease – Belton send a lovely grubber kick through, into the Scottish 22, to keep up her side’s territorial advantage, and the Irish pack turned over ball at a Scottish scrum to great cheers from the visiting support.
With Nicole Fitzgerald of UL Bohemians also coming on to win her first cap, Ireland ran out convincing winners. Their preparations for next weekend’s final match against Italy in Rome can only be in a very positive vein as they bring this piece of history with them.
SCOTLAND WOMEN: Lynsey Harley (Murrayfield Wanderers); Cara D’Silva (Kirkcaldy), Lucy Millard (Murrayfield Wanderers), Erin Kerr (Richmond), Veronica Fitzpatrick (Royal High Corstorphine); Suzi Newton (Blaydon Team Northumbria), Louise Dalgliesh (Royal High Corstorphine); Heather Lockart (Hillhead/Jordanhill), Gail Russell (Richmond), Beth Dickens (Murrayfield Wanderers), Jilly McCord (Royal High Corstorphine), Lana Blyth (Murrayfield Wanderers), Lynne Reid (Royal High Corstorphine), Susie Brown (Hillhead/Jordanhill), Donna Kennedy (Royal High Corstorphine) (capt).
Replacements used: Louise Fraser (Watsonians) for Reid (28-34 mins), Lindsey Wheeler (Murrayfield Wanderers) for Blyth (48), Louise Moffat (Kirkcaldy) for Brown (62), Sarah-Louise Walker (Watsonians) for Russell, Tanya Griffith (Royal High Corstorphine) for Fitzpatrick, Fraser for Dickens (all 68), Rachael Nicolson (Hillhead/Jordanhill) for Dalgliesh (76), Hazel Bielinski (Hillhead/Jordanhill) for Harley (80).
IRELAND WOMEN: Sarahjane Belton (UL Bohemians) (capt); Jeannette Feighery (UL Bohemians), Lynne Cantwell (Richmond), Shannon Houston (Blackrock), Grace Davitt (Blackrock); Jo O’Sullivan (Richmond), Louise Beamish (UL Bohemians); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians), Jess Limbert (Cooke), Marie Barrett (Highfield), Caroline Mahon (UL Bohemians), Germaine Healy (Rathdrum), Eimear O’Sullivan (Clonakilty), Sinead Ryan (Navan), Orla Brennan (Blackrock).
Replacements used: Yvonne Nolan (Blackrock) for Ryan (40-48 mins), Laura Guest (Clonakilty) for Barrett (60), Nolan for Limbert (63), Debbie Clarke (Blackrock) for Brennan (76), Nicole Fitzgerald (UL Bohemians) for Beamish, Mairead Kelly (UL Bohemians) for Houston, Amanda Greensmith (Shannon) for Davitt (all 80).
IrishRugby.ie player of the match: Sarahjane Belton (Ireland)