Following the Ireland Women’s disappointing 15-12 defeat to Scotland at Donnybrook on Sunday afternoon, head coach Adam Griggs accepted they were beaten by the better team.
Ireland trailed by eight points in the early stages of the second half, with Scottish centre Helen Nelson adding a 42nd minute try to her early penalty. The hosts hit back with two tries of their own with – a penalty try and a Paula Fitzpatrick effort – but Chloe Rollie’s stunning intercept score just past the hour mark secured the visitors’ first away Six Nations victory in 12 years.
With his side having impressed last time out against Wales, Adam Griggs lamented the slow start that they made to this fourth round contest, which ultimately left them with too much ground to make up.
“I don’t think we were in the game really. I think Scotland started off a lot better than we did in the first half and we were lucky to be down only 3-0 at half-time. We really didn’t fire a shot in that first half. Full credit to them (Scotland),” said the New Zealander.
“A couple of weeks ago when we played Wales, we were really good and we were switched on and focused. Today our preparation wasn’t quite as good. I don’t think we really played rugby until the 76th minute, where we actually started to put some phases together. International rugby, you can’t afford to let another team into a game that quickly.”
After a penalty try won by the dominant Irish scrum reduced the deficit to 8-7 with half-an-hour remaining, Ireland then had a series of five-metre scrums on the right wing. While Scottish prop Megan Kennedy was sent to the sin-bin, referee Ian Tempest opted against awarding a second penalty try.
Although Griggs was left frustrated by this decision, he also acknowledged that they could have done more to force the hand of the match officials. “It was frustrating and I have to question, we get four scrum penalties on their line and we get a yellow card from it but no penalty try. Phases before that, we got a penalty try and no yellow card. That was kind of confusing to me.
“I would have liked to have seen us walk that over and force the referee to give us the penalty try. That’s again about our game management and making sure when we’re down those areas of the field, we’ve got to turn them into points. One way or another.
“Overall, the pack’s set piece was good, we can still do more around the park and be a little bit more direct to earn that right to go wide and our backs need to be able to execute it as well.”
While Ireland only enjoyed limited possession in the opening 40 minutes, a series of handling errors – and a number of knock-ons – made it difficult for them to build any sort of sustained pressure. With a lack of go-forward ball, Griggs acknowledged they were always facing an uphill battle.
“We need momentum to play. That’s what we base our game off. Getting some good go-forward ball and using it. When they slow down the breakdown and you can’t quite get that, you need a problem solver on the move and to come up with other ways. Which we didn’t really do.”
With their Triple Crown hopes dashed, Ireland face into a tough final round match against England at the Ricoh Arena on Friday (kick-off 5.30pm). Griggs is under no illusions about the challenge that the defending champions will pose, particularly in light of their own 18-17 reversal at the hands of France last weekend.
“Probably the most difficult challenge ever. Especially them coming off a loss as well. They’ll be gunning for us. All we can do is try and get this preparation right, get the little details right and really put up a fight against them,” he insisted.
“It’s going to be very tough. The bodies will be sore, no matter what. It’s an international Six Nations game. It’s a short turnaround, we just have to make sure we can flick that switch and get stuck in for the last week of the tournament.”