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Ireland Women Finish With Eight-Try Flourish
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Ireland Women Finish With Eight-Try Flourish

Ireland Women Finish With Eight-Try Flourish

The Ireland Women produced their most complete performance of the Six Nations to run out 45-12 winners over Scotland at sunny Donnybrook.

Tries from Alison Miller and captain Niamh Briggs sandwiched first international scores for Liz Burke and Ciara Griffin as they led 25-7 at half-time.

Miller had a hat-trick and Briggs bagged her brace by the hour mark and while replacement Sophie Spence added Ireland's eighth try, Rhona Lloyd had a late consolation effort for the Scots.

This final round fixture, which was attended by President Michael D Higgins, saw Ireland and Scotland meet for the first time since last year's 73-3 title-clinching win for the girls in green in Cumbernauld.

France were crowned Women's Six Nations champions against England in Vannes on Friday night, so a third place finish was the prize on offer for Tom Tierney's side this afternoon.

They hit the front within four minutes, Paula Fitzpatrick going close from a powerful lineout maul before Nora Stapleton's well-timed inside pass saw winger Miller dart over to the left of the posts.

Briggs converted and her UL Bohemians club-mate Burke was next over the whitewash, finishing off a free-flowing back-line move in the eighth minute for a 12-0 scoreline.

Sene Naoupu was central to that score and as the Irish backs continued to puncture holes in the overworked Scottish defence, excellent hands from Larissa Muldoon and Briggs played in flanker Griffin out wide on the right.

Quick ruck ball and slick handling kept Ireland very much on the front foot, with the Scots struggling to cope with the hard running of Naoupu, the excellent Fitzpatrick and player-of-the-match Claire Molloy.

A big tackle by Molloy on Jade Konkel forced a five-metre scrum for the hosts and with the Scots infringing at the breakdown, Briggs clipped over a close range penalty for 20-0.

Lovely footwork from Molloy and Griffin got Ireland straight back into scoring range and from a lost Scottish lineout in their 22, out-half Stapleton's pinpoint cross-field kick teed up Briggs' touchdown on the half hour mark.

Scotland hit back right from the restart, scrum half Jenny Maxwell lifting her side with a superb solo try as he sniped clear from a ruck and evaded the clutches of both Muldoon and Burke. Hooker Lana Skeldon added a very well-struck conversion.

Indeed, Shade Munro's charges were much more competitive approaching the interval, and the home support breathed a sigh of relief when Lisa Thomson was brought to ground after intercepting Briggs' attempted offload.

Ireland wasted little time in registering their fifth try, with the second half just 67 seconds' old when Miller finished smartly to complete her brace. Again, livewire flanker Molloy was to the fore in the build-up.

Briggs then used a strong hand-off to make it over near the right corner flag, with the forwards providing a solid scrum platform, before Scottish number 8 Konkel was tackled just short at the other end.

But it was very much advantage Ireland entering the final quarter, with Scotland losing their discipline. They had two players sin-binned in quick succession – replacement prop Tracy Balmer for repeated infringements close to the try-line, and flanker Jemma Forsyth for an off-the-ball incident.

In between those yellow cards, improved execution from Ireland after a scrappy spell saw the ever-threatening Naoupu, who finished the game at out-half, feed Miller for her hat-trick score out wide.

The home side continued to create scoring opportunities, replacement Kim Flood charging up the left wing and she might have backed herself to score rather than link up inside with Aine Donnelly. The move broke down soon after, but Spence powered over off the back of a scrum with six minutes left.

Scotland, who have certainly improved under Munro this season, made sure to have the final say. Maxwell took a quick tap to launch a spirited last-minute assault on the Irish line, and some crisp passing put teenager Lloyd over on her left wing.

The 33-point triumph was enough to seal third place for Ireland, who have now finished in the top half of the Women's Six Nations table for the last eight years of the tournament.

TIME LINE: 4 minutes – Ireland try: Alison Miller – 5-0; conversion: Niamh Briggs – 7-0; 8 mins – Ireland try: Liz Burke – 12-0; conversion: missed by Niamh Briggs – 12-0; 13 mins – Ireland try: Ciara Griffin – 17-0; conversion: missed by Niamh Briggs – 17-0; 27 mins – Ireland penalty: Niamh Briggs – 20-0; 30 mins – Ireland try: Niamh Briggs – 25-0; missed by Niamh Briggs – 25-0; 32 mins – Scotland try: Jenny Maxwell – 25-5; conversion: Lana Skeldon – 25-7; Half-time – Ireland 25 Scotland 7; 41 mins – Ireland try: Alison Miller – 30-7; conversion: missed by Niamh Briggs – 30-7; 48 mins – Ireland try: Niamh Briggs – 35-7; conversion: missed by Niamh Briggs – 35-7; 58 mins – Scotland yellow card: Tracy Balmer; 59 mins – Ireland try: Alison Miller – 40-7; conversion: missed by Niamh Briggs – 40-7; 60 mins – Scotland yellow card: Jemma Forsyth; 74 mins – Ireland try: Sophie Spence – 45-7; conversion: missed by Niamh Briggs – 45-7; 80 mins – Scotland try: Rhona Lloyd – 45-12; conversion: missed by Lisa Martin – 45-12; Full-time – Ireland 45 Scotland 12

Referee: Sherry Trumbull (Canada)

Lineups Scorers

Match Lineups

Home Team

Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt); Liz Burke (UL Bohemians/Munster), Claire McLaughlin (Queen's University/Ulster), Sene Naoupu (Galwegians/Connacht), Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Larissa Muldoon (Skewen); Ruth O'Reilly (Galwegians/Connacht), Zoe Grattage (Tralee/Munster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Elaine Anthony (Highfield/Munster), Ciara Cooney (Railway Union/Leinster), Ciara Griffin (Tralee/Munster), Claire Molloy (Bristol), Paula Fitzpatrick (Toulouse).

Replacements used: Mary Healy (Galwegians/Connacht) for Muldoon, Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union/Leinster) for Grattage (both 49 mins), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster) for Fitzpatrick (55), Orla Fitzsimons (St. Mary's/Leinster) for Anthony, Kim Flood (Railway Union/Leinster) for Stapleton (both 60), Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster) for O'Reilly, Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemians/Munster) for Egan, Aine Donnelly (Cill Dara/Leinster) for Miller (all 67).

Away Team

Chloe Rollie (Murrayfield Wanderers); Megan Gaffney (Hillhead/Jordanhill), Lisa Thomson (Melrose RFC/Edinburgh University), Lisa Martin (Murrayfield Wanderers) (capt), Rhona Lloyd (Murrayfield Wanderers/Edinburgh University); Sarah Law (Murrayfield Wanderers/Edinburgh University), Jenny Maxwell (Leeds Beckett University/Lichfield RFC); Heather Lockhart (Hillhead/Jordanhill), Lana Skeldon (Hillhead/Jordanhill), Lindsey Smith (Hillhead/Jordanhill), Emma Wassell (Murrayfield Wanderers), Deborah McCormack (Richmond RFC), Jemma Forsyth (Hillhead/Jordanhill), Karen Dunbar (RHC Cougars/Edinburgh University), Jade Konkel (Hillhead/Jordanhill).

Replacements used: Helen Nelson (Murrayfield Wanderers/Edinburgh University) for Law, Tracy Balmer (Worcester RFC) for Lockhart (both half-time), Lauren Harris (Melrose RFC) for Gaffney (63), Lisa Robertson (Murrayfield Wanderers) for Wassell (64-69, temp sub), Eilidh Sinclair (Murrayfield Wanderers) for Rollie (64), Robertson for Smith (69), Sarah Quick (Murrayfield Wanderers) for Skeldon, Fiona Sim (Saracens RFC) for McCormack, Anna Stodter (Saracens RFC) for Forsyth (all 72).

Match Scorers

Home Team

Tries: Alison Miller 3, Liz Burke, Ciara Griffin, Niamh Briggs 2, Sophie Spence; Cons: Niamh Briggs; Pen: Niamh Briggs

Away Team

Tries: Jenny Maxwell, Rhona Lloyd; Con: Lana Skeldon