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Winning Send-Off For Ireland Women In Malahide

Winning Send-Off For Ireland Women In Malahide

A clinical second half by Ireland saw them run in four tries as they cruised to a 27-7 victory over Wales in their final Women’s Rugby World Cup warm-up match at Malahide RFC this afternoon.

Despite bossing the early stages and much of the first half, Philip Doyle's charges trailed 7-0 after Wales scored a converted breakaway try through Sioned Harries.

Out-half Nora Stapleton got Ireland's first points on the board from the boot just before the break to reduce the arrears.

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However, Ireland managed to convert their dominance into points after the restart as tries from Ashleigh Baxter, captain Fiona Coghlan, Alison Miller and Alis Egan sealed a comprehensive 27-7 win.

But the victory did not come without cost as Niamh Kavanagh, Heather O'Brien and Egan all picked up knocks during the game and will be assessed ahead of the squad's departure for the Women's Rugby World Cup in France.

The Ireland Women had defeated Spain 36-20 in Valladolid two weeks ago, while Wales were narrowly beaten 10-7 by Ireland's World Cup Pool B opponents USA at the end of June.

Those friendlies, including this meeting, were part of both countries' preparations for the World Cup which runs from August 1 to 17.

Ireland, who opted to rest experienced backs Niamh Briggs and Lynne Cantwell, were hoping to build on their recent triumph over the Spanish.

Wales, who lost 14-6 on their most recent visit to Ireland during this year's Six Nations, were looking for a positive result before their own World Cup journey begins.

The hosts applied all of the early pressure, but it was Rhys Edwards' Welsh side who took the lead against the run of play in the 14th minute.

Number 8 Harries intercepted Coghlan's midfield pass to break clear from inside her 22 and go over in impressive fashion. Out-half Robyn Wilkins added the extras to give the Welsh a 7-0 advantage.

Ireland though continued to press their opponents as they dictated possession, but seemed to lose the ball at key moments in attack.

However, they finally got on the scoreboard when centre Grace Davitt's surging break resulted in a penalty which Stapleton slotted over from in front of the posts.

Doyle resisted making changes at the interval and it paid off straight away as winger Baxter sprinted down the touchline and beat the covering full-back to score.

And it got even better for the girls in green when prop Coghlan grounded the ball at the end of a driving maul. Stapleton made it three successful kicks from three as the hosts burst into a 10-point lead.

At this stage Ireland were finding gaps in the Welsh defence, and they crossed again in the 56th minute as Miller – a stand-out performer and try scorer against Spain – powered over to make it 22-7.

Six minutes later, prop Egan then touched down in the corner for Ireland's fourth try after being set-up by replacement Siobhan Fleming.

Thereafter the match petered out as both teams brought on replacements, Ireland seeing out the game in fine fettle as they now turn their attentions to Paris and that opening clash with the US on Friday, August 1.

Referee: Helen O'Reilly (IRFU)