Ireland debut ends in narrow defeat for Galwegians' Fowley
The Ireland Women's team fell on the wrong side of an extremely tight result as world champions England won the opening November Series clash 12-10 at the UCD Bowl last Sunday.
Debutant Nicole Fowley was one of five Connacht players named in the match-day squad, along with Claire Molloy, Alison Miller, Mairead Coyne and Mary Healy.
Katy McLean's crucial conversion of flanker Izzy Noel-Smith's late try from a maul gave the visitors the victory, but Tom Tierney's side played the better rugby throughout and can take plenty of positives forward into Saturday's clash against Canada.
Niamh Briggs and Sophie Spence headed up Ireland's list of absentees, and injuries in each half to Cliodhna Moloney and Claire Molloy robbed the hosts of a further two key players.
Ireland had plenty of possession in the first half but struggled to open up a dogged English defence, and the visitors used their lineout to create Rochelle Clark's try.
Nora Stapleton, kicking in the absence of Briggs, clipped over a penalty from in front of the posts to leave Ireland just 5-3 behind at the break.
Tierney's charges continued to have most of the ball on the rain-hit resumption, and finally exerted some prolonged pressure in England's 22.
It finally paid dividends in the 50th minute, when excellent out-half Stapleton scooped up a loose ball and brilliantly stepped through the traffic to crash over to the left of the posts.
The Donegal woman converted her own try, before England's experienced bench were called on.
Costly penalties had Ireland pinned back in their 22 and the English maul, so important in their recent win over France, proved decisive when Noel-Smith was driven over.
McLean expertly nailed the conversion kick from the left to edge England back in front and, try as they might, Ireland's late attempts to unlock the white defensive wall lacked the required precision and penetration.
TIME LINE - 33 minutes - England try: Rochelle Clark - 5-0; conversion: missed by Emily Scott - 5-0; 40 mins - Ireland penalty: Nora Stapleton - 5-3; Half-time - Ireland 3 England 5; 50 mins - Ireland try: Nora Stapleton - 8-5; conversion: Nora Stapleton - 10-5; 72 mins - England try: Izzy Noel-Smith - 10-10; conversion: Katy McLean - 10-12; Full-time - Ireland 10 England 12
REF - Amy Perrett (Australia)