Ireland have no answers to Wales in Six Nations opener

26-0 down at the break in Cardiff Arms Park, the visitors at least battled hard in the second half
Ireland have no answers to Wales in Six Nations opener

Aoife Doyle of Ireland is tackled at Cardiff Arms Park. Picture: INPHO/Robbie Stephenson

Wales 31 Ireland 5 

IRLAND were completely overpowered by a much more physical Wales side in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations Championship opener at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday afternoon.

Ireland head coach Greg McWilliams was shorn a number of players due to injuries and sevens commitments meaning a number of new faces were blooded, but they simply lacked the nous and physical power to compete with what was an extremely strong Welsh side.

The Welsh front row obliterated the inexperienced Irish scrum with the first set piece of the game, as they asserted dominance in this sector that they would not relinquish for the entire game, and from the ensuing lineout penalty, the home maul did a similar job, with openside Alex Callender diving over from close range in the third minute to give Wales an early lead.

Wales crossed for their second try in the 13th minute, with scrum-half Keira Bevan shooting over under the posts from close range after incessant pressure from the home side. Significantly the genesis of the move had been from another scrum penalty.

With second-row Sam Monaghan briefly off the pitch for an HIA, the Irish pack was even more underpowered, and Wales capitalised on their superiority up front with Sioned Harries crashing over from a maul to make it 19-0 by the 23rd minute.

The bonus point try arrived by the 34th minute, when inside centre Kerin Lake ran right through Irish out-half Nicole Cronin and was able to pop to her centre partner Hannah Jones, and the Welsh captain had the simple task of running it in under the posts, to ensure that her side led 26-0 at the break.

Influential Welsh tight head Sisilia Tuipulotu had a try chalked off in the 43rd minute for losing control in the act of grounding the ball, but when Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird was yellow-carded in the 45th minute you feared the worst, and Tuipulota got her try soon after, as she barrelled over from close range.

Sam Monaghan of Ireland battling Kelsey Jones and Abbie Fleming of Wales. Picture: Mark Lewis/Sportsfile
Sam Monaghan of Ireland battling Kelsey Jones and Abbie Fleming of Wales. Picture: Mark Lewis/Sportsfile

Ireland captain Nichola Fryday got a consolation try in the 67th minute when she burrowed over after Ireland’s best period of pressure, but the game petered out afterwards, with Wales running out deserved winners.

Scorers for Wales: K Bevan (1 try, 3 cons), A Callender, S Harries, H Jones, S Tuipulotu (1 try each).  

Ireland: N Fryday (1 try).    

WALES: C Keight; L Neumann, H Jones (capt), K Lake, C Williams-Morris; E Snowsill, K Bevan; G Pyrs, K Jones, S Tuipulotu; A Fleming, G Crabb; G Evans, A Callender, B Lewis.

Subs: S Harries for G Crabb (7), K Williams for B Lewis (56), C Hale, F Lewis and H Bluck for S Tuipulotu, K Bevan and H Jones (60), K Evans for K Jones (62), C Thomas for G Pyrs (71).

IRELAND: M Deely; A Doyle, A Dalton, E Breen, N Behan; N Cronin, M Scuffil-McCabe; S McGrath, N Jones, L Djougang; N Fryday (capt), S Monaghan; D Wall, M Óg O’Leary, B Hogan.

Subs: H O’Connor for S Monaghan (20), S Monaghan for H O’Connor (31), V Irwin for M Deely (32), D Nic a Bhaird for M Óg O’Leary (40), D O’Brien for A Doyle (49), C Haney, J Brown and G Moore for S McGrath, D Wall and B Hogan (56), H O’Connor for N Cronin (64), N O’Dowd for L Djougang (71).

Referee: Amber McLachlan (RA)

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