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Triple Crown Joy For Ireland Women

Triple Crown Joy For Ireland Women

The Ireland Women got the victory they required to seal a first ever Triple Crown and qualification for the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup as they powered to a 30-3 win over Scotland at Lasswade today.

It was a richly deserved win for the Fiona Coghlan-led Irish team who turned in another determined performance just a week after their historic defeat of England in Ashbourne.

Having fallen behind to an early penalty from Scotland centre Lisa Ritchie, Ireland knuckled down and Niamh Briggs, who had a terrific game at full-back, kicked them level in the 22nd minute.

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Philip Doyle's side pushed on to take an 8-3 interval lead with a sweeping 27th minute move ending with Alison Miller touching down in the corner.

Scotland hammered away at the Irish defence in the closing stages of the first half and a key turnover from Ashleigh Baxter ensured the visitors held out.

It remained a tight, hard-fought contest after the resumption, with Scotland clearly growing in confidence as the Irish errors increased.

But when Briggs landed a penalty after Scotland out-half Tanya Griffith was sin-binned, Ireland settled back into their stride and the tries duly came.

Miller then scorched over for her fifth try in two outings, finishing off in clinical fashion with the initial damage done by a surging Briggs run.

Briggs converted for an 18-3 scoreline and also added the extras to a well-merited try from flanker Siobhan Fleming, a player who has really grasped her opportunity in the last two matches.

The icing on the cake was a late fourth try from Briggs whose conversion attempt came back off an upright.

She finished with 15 points as the girls in green stormed home in the closing stages, making history with a first Triple Crown and keeping on track for a maiden RBS 6 Nations title.

Speaking after such a great achievement by this talented bunch of players, head coach Doyle said: “The performance wasn’t our best, but the players worked their socks off and got their rewards in the end.

“To win the Triple Crown is the stuff of dreams and the players deserve it for all the hard work they have put in in recent weeks.”

Two minutes in to the match Ireland had the first chance when in-form winger Miller had a good run down the left, but it was the hosts who took the lead.

In the seventh minute they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts and Ritchie slotted it over. Ireland were soon back on the attack and centre Jenny Murphy was causing problems with some strong running.

However, too often the passing was sloppy leading to knock ons while the Scots were also defending well and the scoreline stayed the same until the second quarter.

That was when player of the match Briggs kicked a penalty and two minutes later the visitors scored a wonderful team try.

The move had started in their own half with a number of players getting their hands on the ball. Sharp offloads stretched the Scottish defence and the finishing touch came from Miller and it was 8-3.

The match was certainly entertaining for the healthy crowd present with both teams giving everything, but that was the way it stayed until half-time.

Indeed it was the way things stayed until the 57th minute when Scotland’s Griffith was yellow carded for deliberate offside.

Briggs converted the resulting penalty and Ireland used the player advantage to then score a converted try through Miller again. The distribution skills and direction provided by Nora Stapleton and Lynne Cantwell were key as Ireland foraged ahead.

At 18-3 up after 62 minutes the result was all but in the bag for the Irish, and it allowed them to play with more confidence over the remainder of the game.

In the 75th minute Fleming scored a converted try and fittingly, the talented Briggs rounded things off with a try of her own on what was momentous occasion for this Irish squad.

Referee: Simon Rees (Wales)