Friday 9 December 2016

Briggs finds positives as Ireland blown away by Black Fern blitz

Ireland Women 8 New Zealand Women 38

Tom Rooney

Published 28/11/2016 | 02:30

New Zealand players perform the Haka before their victory over Ireland in the Women’s International. Photo: Sportsfile
New Zealand players perform the Haka before their victory over Ireland in the Women’s International. Photo: Sportsfile

The scoreboard simply did not reflect what had unfolded over a relentless 80 minutes at a boisterous UCD Bowl, but the fact remains that the Ireland Women's side were handed their third consecutive loss of the first autumn series by a ruthless New Zealand outfit.

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As a beaming Joe Schmidt looked on, Ireland were trailing the Black Ferns by just 5-3 at half-time after an excellent display in the opening 40 minutes.

Ireland's Sene Naoupu is tackled by All Blacks Chelsea Alley and Portia Woodman. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Ireland's Sene Naoupu is tackled by All Blacks Chelsea Alley and Portia Woodman. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Yet after the turn, New Zealand cut loose and scored five answered tries as they took full advantage of the space that resulted from tiring Irish legs.

Magnificent

Exceptional full-back Selica Winiata dotted down in each half, before centre Portia Woodman scored a magnificent hat-trick and out-half Kelly Brazier registered the sixth.

Substitute Niamh Kavanagh capped off a fine move with a try for Ireland a minute from time, which was thoroughly deserved given the monumental shift they had put in.

All Blacks' Charmaine Smith catches a high ball. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
All Blacks' Charmaine Smith catches a high ball. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Head coach Tom Tierney will take some solace for the manner in which his side kept battling long after the game was over as a contest, but following the narrow loss to England, and last week's thumping from Canada, he'll have plenty of thinking to do ahead of the Six Nations.

Tierney had previously said he hoped to use the series as a means of blooding new players, while gauging his team against the top three sides in the world before next year's World Cup in Ireland.

With that in mind, captain Niamh Briggs said that the last month will stand them in good stead, while also paying tributes to some of the new faces that have emerged of late.

"We've learned over the past couple of weeks that the best sides in the world are very clinical and will live off those mistakes. But if we keep getting around the park and matching them physicality-wise, we're a match for any side in the world," the full-back explained

Ireland's Claire McLaughlin is tackled by New Zealand's Honey Hireme. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Ireland's Claire McLaughlin is tackled by New Zealand's Honey Hireme. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

"Look at the likes of Leah Lyons, Nichola Fryday and Nicole Fowley - these girls don't look out of place and they come in with no inhibitions.

"They have no fear, and that's what we want; they will create competition because that's what we've been lacking over the last couple of World Cups."

Despite a fine start, Ireland were behind after six minutes as Winiata went over off clean lineout ball from a penalty.

Referee Sara Cox dubiously disallowed a try for hooker Cliodhna Moloney for offside, before Stapleton slotted a penalty.

New Zealand came flying out the traps after the break, with Winiata getting over again within three minutes. Woodman then struck three times in the blink of an eye, before Brazier completed the rout.

Irish Independent

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