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Briggs Boots Ireland Women To Another Famous Ashbourne Win
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Briggs Boots Ireland Women To Another Famous Ashbourne Win

Briggs Boots Ireland Women To Another Famous Ashbourne Win

The Ireland Women’s team claimed only their second ever victory over England in a tight Six Nations clash at Ashbourne RFC.


Captain Niamh Briggs' late penalty was the match-winning score, completing a fine comeback for Tom Tierney's tigerish side as they recovered from an 8-3 half-time deficit in front of a 2,087-strong crowd.

Katy Mclean and Briggs traded penalties before England number 8 Harriet Millar-Mills touched down. Quick-thinking scrum half Larissa Muldoon sniped over to reply in the 50th minute and the hosts won out thanks to Briggs' reliable right boot.

Having spent much of the opening half against France on the back foot, Ireland were the more offensive outfit during the early exchanges tonight. Thanks to the industrious play of Jenny Murphy, Nora Stapleton and Muldoon, the girls in green were threatening to break the deadlock.

England defended smartly and were well organised, bouncing back to take the lead as their out-half and captain Mclean, who had missed her first place-kick of the night, punished Briggs for an apparent high tackle on Alexandra Matthews who had broken through the first line of defence

Mclean then sent a long range penalty wide of the posts and with very little to choose between the teams, it was obvious that every scoring chance would have to be taken. Briggs responded for Ireland in the 25th minute, splitting the posts confidently as her team began to build momentum again.

Right winger Alison Miller, the hat-trick heroine of the famous 2013 win over the English, surged towards the right corner as half-time approached, only for England to regain possession when the ball was recycled.

Moments later, it was England's turn to up the ante. Abigail Brown and Mclean were both brought down just shy of the Irish whitewash in the final seconds of the half. Showing their World Cup-winning pedigree, England pressed from the resulting five-metre scrum and Millar-Mills controlled the ball at the base and dropped on it, just past the line, for the opening try.

Mclean missed the conversion and Ireland, now with the breeze behind them, resumed in good fettle, the ever-impressive Miller and Briggs almost finding a way through on either wing with Heather O'Brien and Claire Molloy becoming more prominent in the forward exchanges.

Powerful work by her pack, where the strong-carrying Sophie Spence shone once again, soon had Muldoon in the right place at the right time as she took a quick tap and got past full-back Lauren Cattell to touch down.

Briggs missed the tricky conversion which she had to rush after it fell off the tee. Moving into the final half hour, the game remained delicately poised. England enjoyed some decent possession during the final quarter, but they were given precious little space by the watertight Irish defence.

Ireland experienced the same difficulties when they ventured into English territory, but their relentless pressure forced a 76th minute penalty from late replacement Hannah Field in front of her posts and Briggs, shaking off an injured calf, slotted the kick to send the Ashbourne faithful into raptures.

England desperately scrambled for a response in injury-time, but the strong-willed Irish defence, led by Old Belvedere duo Marie Louise Reilly and Ailis Egan, was not budging as the girls in green ran out deserved three-point winners.

Referee: Leah Berard (USA)

Lineups Scorers

Match Lineups

Home Team

Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt); Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster), Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Larissa Muldoon (Skewen); Ruth O'Reilly (Galwegians/Connacht), Gillian Bourke (Olympico de Pozuelo), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary's/Leinster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Heather O'Brien (Highfield/Munster).

Replacements used: Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster) for O'Reilly (48 mins), Tania Rosser (Blackrock/Leinster) for Muldoon (71), Fiona O'Brien (Old Belvedere/Leinster) for Egan (80+5). Not used: Sarah Mimnagh (Wasps/Exile), Orla Fitzsimons (St. Mary's/Leinster), Katie Norris (Blackrock/Leinster), Jackie Shiels (Richmond/Exile), Sene Naoupu (Galwegians/Connacht).


Away Team

Lauren Cattell (Saracens); Ruth Laybourn (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Abigail Brown (Bristol), Ceri Large (Worcester), Sydney Gregson (Bristol); Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) (capt), Bianca Blackburn (Worcester); Rochelle Clark (Worcester), Victoria Fleetwood (Saracens), Laura Keates (Worcester), Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Alexandra Matthews (Richmond), Hannah Gallagher (Saracens), Harriet Millar-Mills (Waterloo).

Replacements used: Amber Reed (Bristol) for Laybourn (76 mins), Hannah Field (Richmond) for Cattell (79), Fiona Davidson (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) for Blackburn, Megan Goddard (Worcester) for Brown (both 80). Not used: Amy Cokayne (Lichfield), Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Justine Lucas (Lichfield), Rowena Burnfield (Richmond).

Match Scorers

Home Team

Try: Larissa Muldoon; Pens: Niamh Briggs 2

Away Team

Try: Harriet Millar-Mills; Pen: Katy Mclean