Newly-appointed team captain Joy Neville spoke to IrishRugby.ie in the aftermath of Ireland’s 7-5 RBS Women’s 6 Nations win over France at Ashbourne RFC on Friday.
Ireland number 8 captain Joy Neville admitted that Friday night’s tight victory over France was one of the hardest games her team has ever played in.
“Definitely, that was one of the toughest games we’ve ever had,” she said shortly after the final whistle.
“We knew we’d have to fight tooth and nail and we did. It came down to the last couple of seconds and we didn’t expect anything less than that.”
In the end, a 72nd-minute try from prop Fiona Coghlan, which Niamh Briggs crucially converted, was enough to give Ireland the spoils.
Neville sportingly paid tribute to France, branding them ‘unlucky’ not to win the game.
“In fairness to the French, they put up a hard fight and they were just unlucky. I think it was a very tight game and it could really have gone either way.”
The UL Bohemians clubwoman explained that the Irish girls were disappointed not to be ahead at the break but put that down to indiscipline as much as not taking chances.
“We missed a couple of penalties but in saying that (not being ahead) was down to our penalty count,” she noted.
“We let ourselves down in the first half. We knew not to give away as many penalties in the second half and we didn’t.”
The Irish skipper paid tribute to the character her team-mates showed in coming from behind to beat France in freezing conditions at Ashbourne RFC.
“They pulled through – that’s what we asked for from the team today – 80 minutes of a hard, tough rugby and we did it.”
According to Neville, the win will give Ireland the confidence they need to improve on the fourth place finish they secured in last year’s tournament.
“This year we have the belief. We know it’s going to be a very close Six Nations. If we can keep up top (of the table), we’ll be happy with that.”
The other games on the first weekend of the Women’s Championship, England v Italy and Scotland v Wales, will take place on Saturday and Sunday respectively.