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IRELAND are up and running at the Women's Rugby World Cup after 
edging a tense opening clash 23-17 with the United States at Marcoussis, France.

Philip Doyle's charges won't have long to dwell on their win given that world champions New Zealand lie in wait on Tuesday but, having achieved their primary objective of getting four points, they may regret their inability to kick on from their two first-half tries and collect a bonus given they are likely to be in a race for the fourth semi-final spot at the end of the pool stages.


Still, winning was clearly the priority for Ireland against an American side who appeared to be chasing tries in the first half, turning down kickable penalties in an attempt to capitalise on their greater size.

In contrast, the 2013 Grand Slam winners placed their faith in the boot of Niamh Briggs, who guided them through some tough moments during the early stages and finished with 18 points.

Briggs opened the scoring after just two minutes with a penalty after Sarah Walsh was harshly penalised at the ruck, but USA were soon on top, with openside Lynelle Kugler causing problems for the Irish defence.

A penalty conceded by Grace Davitt after a crunching Lynne Cantwell tackle gave USA the opening they needed as Kimber Rozier kicked to touch and, after the maul came up short, the 
fly-half fed Kugler, who easily stepped inside Davitt's tackle to score.

Rozier converted, but Ireland responded with a second Briggs penalty after Claire Molloy charged down Kate Daley's box-kick and the American backline strayed offside. Briggs then kicked to the corner and the forwards took over, with the maul going close before Sophie Spence carried to the line and tighthead prop Ailish Egan powered over with some help from Gillian Bourke.

Briggs converted and, although Molloy joined Walsh in the sin-bin after handling the ball in the ruck, Ireland continued to dominate, squeezing in a try on the half-time whistle after Briggs surged over the line.

She converted her own try and despite pulling a drop-goal and penalty wide in the second half, Briggs and Ireland were able to hold on for the victory.