Connacht girls star as Ireland women suffer narrow defeat to England
Published 20/11/2015 | 02:30
Izzy Noel-Smith's 78th-minute try from a lineout maul was the difference between the sides as the Ireland Women were edged out 8-3 by their English counterparts in rain-soaked London.
Despite the result, Ireland head coach Tom Tierney and his players can take a lot from a very competitive performance at the Twickenham Stoop, with six starters and three replacements making their debuts.
Ireland's historic first autumn international was dictated by very wet conditions in the opening half, a lone penalty from Lauren Cattell giving the home side a 3-0 lead at the break.
Connacht was well represented on the day as Sene Naoupu, Ruth O'Reilly and Mairead Coyne all made the starting XV for the Ireland side.
Coyne was making her debut at this level, while Mary Healy too made her senior international debut on the day after beginning the game among the Irish substitutes.
Ireland captain Niamh Briggs missed a difficult first shot at the posts in the 43rd minute and the girls in green failed to profit from a prolonged attacking spell while England hooker Emma Croker was in the sin-bin.
The visitors were more inventive in attack, Naoupu distributing well in midfield and looking to get the strong-running Jackie Shiels and Mairead Coyne involved, and Briggs deservedly booted them level in the 73rd minute.
However, the England pack had the decisive say when they piled through from a five-metre lineout with replacement Noel-Smith touching down for the crucial score in the right corner.