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Coghlan Pleased To Come Through ‘Very Physical Battle’

Coghlan Pleased To Come Through ‘Very Physical Battle’

Ireland captain Fiona Coghlan was thrilled to end on the winning side after an intense Women’s Rugby World Cup opener against the USA.

Philip Doyle’s charges were tested to the limit in a ferocious battle in Marcoussis on Friday but tries from Ailis Egan and Niamh Briggs helped them claim an encouraging 23-17 win.

“The heat obviously doesn’t help,” said Coghlan said after the game at French Rugby headquarters. “In fairness to America they’re very physical. We knew they were going to be and we prepared for it but it still didn’t stop them at times.

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“They got momentum and I think in the first half they had 15 possessions and they got 13 gain-lines on us, which is something that we definitely need to look at going forward.

“But yeah, a very physical battle. Thankfully we came out the right side of it.”

Briggs was rewarded for doing the dirty work of a forward by pouncing for a close range try right on half-time.

The score gave Ireland a vital 20-10 lead but Coghlan said she was not surprised to see the full-back make an impact in an unusual area.

“No, no,” the loosehead prop laughed. “Because we’re very much about pop up wherever you want, anyone!

“There were backs in ‘pick and gos’ and everything out there today so everyone pulled their weight.”

A sloppy start to the second half allowed the USA back into the game though, shortly before the Americans called on several powerful enforcements weighing over 80 and 90 kilos.

But it was Ireland who finished stronger and Coghlan was impressed by the impact of the Irish bench. Centre Jenny Murphy made a decisive break that led to Ireland’s final penalty and Paula Fitzpatrick came on to put in some big tackles.

With 20 minutes to go, Briggs kicked over after the USA had a player sin-binned for the second time in the game.

It brought her personal tally to 18 points but Coghlan was pleased with the collective effort as Ireland’s greater experience told in the end.

“We all knew what we had to do,” explained the 33-year-old. “There wasn’t much time left and we wound the clock down quite cleverly.

“I think the forwards took control of the game in the second half. We kept it tight and we kept it to one-pass plays, which we needed to do, and it worked.”

Next up is a clash with reigning World Cup champions New Zealand on Tuesday. The Black Ferns hammered Kazakhstan 79-5 in the other Pool B game but it is a challenge that Coghlan is relishing.

“We’ll look at a bit of footage of them and obviously look at ourselves and where we need to improve, but it’s an exciting prospect and it’s not something that we’ll fear.

“They’re world champions four times in a row but they have been beaten. England have beaten them, Canada ran them close there in the summer internationals.

“So there are chinks in their armour and it’s (about) finding those chinks and exploiting them.”

The round 2 tie promises to be extra special for Ireland’s Tania Rosser. Not only is the scrum half in line to earn her 50th cap, but she would do so against the country of her birth.