Having claimed a hat-trick of tries in the corresponding fixture last year, Ireland Women’s winger Alison Miller showed her scoring prowess again when touching down three times against Scotland yesterday.
Alison Miller’s 15-point haul propelled the girls in green to a comprehensive 45-12 success against the Scots, but the Portlaoise flyer was quick to emphasise the role that her team-mates play in each try she scores.
“I scored a hat-trick in our first ever defeat of England in the Grand Slam in 2013, and a hat-trick against Scotland last year to win our second Six Nations. But obviously hat-tricks are borne out of the work that our forwards and our other players do,” said Miller afterwards at Donnybrook.
“I just have to be in the right place at the right time, and appreciate the good ball that we get from forwards and the other backs that are putting me in that position. It’s great to score them, but obviously they’re team tries.”
With 14 players making their international debuts since last November, this Championship has seen a lot of new combinations used by Ireland Women’s head coach Tom Tierney.
Miller, who has also featured for the Irish Women’s Sevens side this year, feels it is important to examine all the options available ahead of the 2017 Women’s World Cup on home soil, and she believes that they are currently heading in the right direction.
“I think it’s really important when you go to a World Cup next year that you have a squad of 26 players that can put their hand up, and build that depth within Irish women’s rugby. I suppose, that went against us maybe in the last World Cup, so hopefully this World Cup we’ll have 26 players plus that all can play at the highest level.
“I think it is really important to blood new players, and we see the talent that there is there. Okay, obviously you’re going to try new combinations, and it will be disjointed at times, but I think today showed the combinations worked really well,” added the 30-times capped winger.
The eight-try triumph ensured that Ireland maintained their 100% winning record at home this season, and with Wales suffering a 16-12 defeat at the hands of Italy, they finished their Six Nations campaign in a respectable third place.
In terms of the challenge provided by Scotland on the day, Tierney felt that their opponents had come on a lot from where they were 12 months ago, and the former international scrum half was pleased with the accuracy of his side during the contest.
“I’d say they have improved greatly from where they were last year. They’ve got a lot of new players. Scotland are, like us all, learning the game. They’ve got a very smart management team that will fast track them, and get better and better, but they are clearly learning,” he admitted.
“We were accurate, and it’s nice to be accurate in certain stages of the game that we weren’t last week. It’s just going to be a good confidence booster to the girls. Obviously we’re not going to run away with ourselves, we have to be better or we have to get better, and we will.”
Following their Six Nations title-winning odyssey in 2015, Tierney has used this year’s competition as an opportunity to test out some inexperienced but promising players. While they are still learning their trade at this level, he has been impressed by the newcomers, who are displaying a willingness to compete on the international stage.
“I suppose you’ve got a couple of players in the pack that have stood up in camps, and obviously in patches of games. Ciara Cooney, Ciara Griffin, we’ve got Cliodhna Moloney coming through as a hooker. We’ve got Zoe Grattage coming through as a hooker. Lindsay Peat, who has changed over sports.
“All of those players are worth their weight in gold in the sense that they’ve proved that they can be competitive. Again, I always go back to the fact that they’re only learning, but they do show the foundation blocks to be actually competitive at an international stage. Then it’s our job to help them to get better, and it’s very, very pleasing,” he concluded.