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Six Nations Preview: Ireland Women v Italy Women

Six Nations Preview: Ireland Women v Italy Women

From ‘fortress Ashbourne’ to the Aviva Stadium, the Ireland Women’s squad are determined to crown their debut at the Lansdowne Road venue with a winning performance against Italy.


IRELAND WOMEN (2nd) v ITALY WOMEN (4th), Aviva Stadium, 5pm (live ‘Game On’ RTÉ 2fm/RTÉ News Now/www.rte.ie/live (worldwide))

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Team News:  Ireland Women’s head coach Philip Doyle has made three personnel changes and one positional switch to the team that ran out at Twickenham last time out.

In the backs, experienced centre Grace Davitt comes in for Jenny Murphy and Amy Davis replaces Larissa Muldoon at scrum half.

Both Murphy and Muldoon are listed among the replacements, while Davitt will be winning her 50th cap for Ireland.

In the forwards, Gillian Bourke switches from hooker to tighthead prop with Stacey-Lea Kennedy donning the number 2 jersey and Ailis Egan dropping to the bench.

The only other change to the matchday squad sees Paula Fitzpatrick replace Laura Guest among the replacements.

Doyle said: “The team put in a strong performance against England at Twickenham and we are very much still in the hunt for the Championship.

“Italy pushed us all the way last year in the final game of the tournament, so we will not be taking them lightly and will need to put in a clinical performance to ensure that we secure victory in our first outing at the Aviva Stadium.”

Tickets for the Ireland v Italy Women’s game are available to buy here on Ticketmaster.ie. They are priced at €;10 for adults and €;5 for children.

Those in possession of tickets for the Ireland v Italy men’s Six Nations match on the day are invited to remain for the women’s fixture.

To promote the Women’s game, the IRFU will provide 400 euro to clubs who currently field a Women’s team to defray the costs of travelling for the historic match.

Meanwhile, Italy coaches Andrea di Giandomenico and Diego Scaglia have made a couple of changes to the team that beat Scotland 45-5 in the previous round.

With a quad muscle injury troubling Sofia Stefan, Maria Diletta Veronese will start on the right wing with Michela Sillari – one of five try scorers against the Scots – swapping positions with Maria Grazia Cioffi.

Veronica Schiavon, who kicked 15 points in that round 3 tie, forms a settled half-back partnership with Sara Barattin.

Up front, Cristina Molic reverts from the back row to the second row with Treviso’s Michela Este earning a call-up at blindside flanker. Alessia Pantarotto is benched.

This is the third national ground that the Italians have played at in recent years after appearances at Twickenam (2007) and the Millennium Stadium (2012).

Women’s RBS 6 Nations Results/Fixtures

Women’s RBS 6 Nations Table

IRELAND WOMEN: Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster); Ashleigh Baxter (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Lynne Cantwell (Richmond/Exile), Grace Davitt (Cooke/Ulster), Alison Miller (Portlaoise/UCC/Connacht); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Amy Davis (Blackrock/Ulster); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster) (capt), Stacey-Lea Kennedy (Cooke/Ulster), Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians/Munster), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Siobhan Fleming (Tralee/Munster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Heather O’Brien (Highfield/Munster).

Replacements: Ailis Egan (Old Belveder/Leinster), Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster), Kerrie-Ann Craddock (Saracens/Exile), Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s/Leinster), Larissa Muldoon (Bristol/Exile), Hannah Casey (Saracens/Exiles), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Jackie Shiels (Richmond/Exile).

ITALY WOMEN: Manuela Furlan (Benetton Treviso); Maria Diletta Veronese (Valsugana Rugby Padova), Michela Sillari (Rugby Colorno), Beatrice Rigoni (Valsugana Padova), Maria Grazia Cioffi (Rugby Benevento); Veronica Schiavon (Sitam Riviera del Brenta), Sara Barattin (Rugby Casale); Marta Ferrari (Rennes), Melissa Bettoni (Rugby Red Blu), Awa Coulibaly (Rennes), Cristina Molic (Sitam Riviera del Brenta), Alice Trevisan (Sitam Riviera del Brenta), Michela Este (Benetton Treviso), Ilaria Arrighetti (Rugby Monza), Silvia Gaudino (Rugby Monza) (capt).

Replacements: Debora Ballarini (Sitam Riviera del Brenta), Lucia Cammarano (Rugby Monza), Irene Campanini (Rugby Colorno), Alessia Pantarotto (Sitam Riviera del Brenta), Elisa Giordano (Valsugana Padova), Maria Magatti (Rugby Monza), Monica Bruno (CUS Torino Rugby), Sofia Stefan (Rennes).

Referee: Leah Berard (USA)
Assistant Referees: Helen O’Reilly, Susan Carty (both Ireland)

Pre-Match Quotes – Fiona Coghlan (Ireland Women): “England was our first loss for over a year, but we’re fully aware that we are still in the hunt to retain the Championship which can only happen if we beat Italy.

“The players just want to get back on the pitch and get another opportunity to prove themselves.

“We had last weekend off but there’s been a lot of video analysis done by the entire squad over the last two weeks and it’s that kind of dedication which will lead to consistency in our performances.

“It’s not often we get to go to Aviva for the men’s games, but I have been there for the first game against South Africa in 2010 and last year we were invited out onto the pitch at half-time to celebrate our Grand Slam win which was a very special moment.

“We all know how electric the place can be and all the elements are in place for it to be a really unique day in Irish rugby history and we are certainly focused on playing our part in that.”

Pre-Match Links –

Excitement Builds Ahead Of Ireland Women’s Aviva Debut

Students’ Rugby Video To Feature At Aviva Stadium

We’ve More In The Tank Insists Cantwell

Ireland Women Lose Tight Game At Twickenham

Photo Gallery: England Women 17 Ireland Women 10

Tickets And Timings Confirmed For Historic Women’s Fixture

Match Facts –

– Ireland Women’s seven-match winning run came to a halt against England at Twickenham in round 3

– Ireland have won their last seven home games at this level since England won 31-0 at Ashbourne in 2011

– Italy Women have won two of their last three matches and have never before won three in the same Championship season

– The two nations have met on eleven previous occasions with Italy Women’s only previous victory being 13-5 in Nice in the semi-final of the FIRA Championship in April 1997

– This is the first Women’s international ever to be played at the Aviva Stadium

– Irish lock Sophie Spence remains top of the try scoring charts thanks to her hat-trick of tries in the record-breaking 59-0 defeat of Scotland in round 1. Full-back Niamh Briggs (14 points) is seven points behind top points scorer, England captain Katy Mclean

Recent Meetings –

2011: Women’s Six Nations: Italy Women 5 Ireland Women 26, Rovigo

2012: Women’s Six Nations: Ireland Women 40 Italy Women 10, Ashbourne RFC

2013: Women’s Six Nations: Italy Women 3 Ireland Women 6, Parabiago, Milan