After away defeats to France and England, Kevin West’s Ireland Women are back at home to host Wales in tonight’s RBS Women’s 6 Nations encounter at Ashbourne RFC. The target now for the girls in green will be to knuckle down and secure second or third spot in the Championship table.
RBS WOMEN’S 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP: Friday, March 12
IRELAND WOMEN v WALES WOMEN, Ashbourne RFC, 7.30pm
Team News: Ireland Women’s coach Kevin West had made a number of changes to the starting line-up for Friday’s RBS Women’s 6 Nations encounter with Wales.
Two players have been promoted from the bench with Grace Davitt coming in at inside centre and Alison Miller taking her place on the left wing. Amy Davis switches from the left wing to the right.
Navan’s Sinead Ryan makes her first appearance of the Championship on the bench, while Nora Stapleton and Shannon Houston also feature in the replacements.
The girls in green will play once again at Ashbourne RFC in Meath which is fast becoming a fortress with a growing local support.
A large crowd gathered for the recent Italy match and even more spectators are expected this Friday evening.
In an effort to make the journey simpler and more enjoyable, there will be a private hire coach for fans travelling to Ashbourne from Old Belvedere RFC in Dublin 4.
The bus will leave the Belvedere car park at 6.30pm for a 7.30pm kick-off, returning approximately an hour-and-a-half after the end of the match.
Seats on the coach are limited and by reservation only. Everyone is welcome. The package – including round trip coach fare, ticket to the match and a free post-match drink at Ashbourne RFC – is only 20 euro per person.
If you would like to book a seat, contact Jenny MacGregor (firstname.lastname@example.org) as soon as possible. Seats are filling fast!
Meanwhile, last year’s Triple Crown champions Wales may currently find themselves in fifth spot in the table, but their coach Jason Lewis is still targeting a top two finish for his side.
A victory over Scotland has been sandwiched between defeats to England and France which means Wales travel to Ashbourne to take on Ireland who are nestled just one place above Wales on the points table.
For Friday’s tie, the Welsh pack remains the same as the one which lost to France 3-15 at Bridgend two weeks ago but Lewis has tinkered with the back-line.
Amy Day comes in at half-back for Laura Prosser, while Mared Evans and Ceri Redman start at full-back and centre respectively.
Non Evans has moved from full-back to the left wing to accommodate her namesake, while Naomi Thomas moves from outside centre to inside centre to allow Redman to take her place in midfield.
Clare Flowers drops out of the back-line after undergoing shoulder surgery, with winger Caryl James moving down to the bench.
IRELAND WOMEN: Niamh Briggs (Clonmel/Munster); Amy Davis (Blackrock/Leinster), Joanne O’Sullivan (Richmond/Exile), Grace Davitt (Blackrock/Leinster), Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht); Helen Brosnan (Highfield/Munster), Tania Rosser (Blackrock/Leinster); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster) (capt), Chris Fanning (Highfield/Munster), Lauren Day (Cooke/Ulster), Kate O’Loughlin (Clonmel/Munster), Marie Louise Reilly (Navan/Leinster), Orla Brennan (Blackrock/Leinster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Joy Neville (UL Bohemians/Munster).
Replacements: Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians/Munster), Louise Austin (UL Bohemians/Munster), Carol Staunton (Galwegians/Connacht), Sinead Ryan (Navan/Leinster), Louise Beamish (UL Bohemians/Munster), Shannon Houston (Blackrock/Leinster), Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster).
WALES WOMEN: Mared Evans (UWIC); Aimee Young (UWIC), Ceri Redman (UWIC), Naomi Thomas (Cardiff Harlequins), Non Evans (Cardiff Harlequins); Awen Thomas (Unattached), Amy Day (Bristol); Catrin Edwards (Cardiff Harlequins), Rhian Bowden (UWIC), Jenny Davies (Waterloo), Gemma Hallett (Pontyclun), Rachel Taylor (Cardiff Harlequins), Catrina Nicholas (Cardiff Harlequins), Jamie Kift (Bristol), Mellissa Berry (Northumbria) (capt).
Replacements: Claire Horgan (Saracens), Louise Horgan (Saracens), Claire Donovan (Saracens), Lisa Newton (UWIC), Laura Prosser (Cardiff Harlequins), Kay Rees (Harlequins), Caryl James (Cardiff Harlequins).
Referee: Eric Gauzins (France)
Assistant Referees: Brian MacNeice (Ireland), Kerstin Ljungdahl (Germany)
Pre-Match Quotes: Kevin West (Ireland Women) – “We are happy with the development of the squad so far. One of the aims of the competition was to start developing depth in the side.
“We are not as happy as we could be with where we are in terms of results. I think that we underperformed, albeit against a good French side.
“And we were disappointed with the final score against England. It was not reflective of the game.
“When you play a quality side like that you are punished ruthlessly for making errors. But we took heart from being competitive, and we learned a lot.
“I know, from reading comments from their coach, that the Welsh were surprised and disappointed with their result against France.
“It’s a similar situation for us to the French match, we’re getting everyone coming on a backlash, which we could do without.
“The Welsh are a really good side, and beating England last year is a testament to that.
“They may have also come up against a pretty focused and good French side, the end of the Six Nations is going to tell us about that.
“We have to make sure that we bring our full game to the party, rather than concentrate on one aspect of the game or another.”
Jason Lewis (Wales Women) – “We’ve set ourselves a really tough challenge. The bottom line is we have to go to Ireland on a Friday, play under floodlights, on the back of a loss and we have got to get a win.
“But it’s going to be tough, very tough. Ireland always target us as a side to knock over as they see us as a side immediately above them in the pecking order.
“The Six Nations is still wide open. If we beat Ireland and Italy we could still finish second. In our minds it’s everything to play for.
“We’ve got to go to Ireland confident we can start to see some of our potential come through which we began to see against Scotland.
“We had a bad day at the office against France but we’ve got to move on from that. We can’t dwell on it. We’ve picked the bones out of it, we know what went wrong, we know what we need to do, so it’s onwards and upwards.”
Pre-Match Links –
Recent Meetings –
2007: RBS Women’s 6 Nations: Wales Women 10 Ireland Women 5, Taffs Well RFC
2008: RBS Women’s 6 Nations: Ireland Women 10 Wales Women 19, St. Mary’s College RFC
2009: RBS Women’s 6 Nations: Wales Women 13 Ireland Women 10, Taffs Well RFC