Monday 19 March 2018

Deflated Ireland desperate to finish utterly miserable World Cup campaign on high note

Ireland v Wales, Kingspan Stadium, 2.0

Ireland's Sene Naoupu. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland's Sene Naoupu. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Eighty more minutes remain before Ireland can finally put what has been a dreadful World Cup campaign to bed and determine why they were so poor at their own tournament, writes Cian Tracey.

Their performance against Australia on Thursday highlighted how much they have regressed since they narrowly beat the Wallaroos in their pool opener.

Wales' campaign has been equally as dreadful but admittedly they were in a much tougher pool alongside New Zealand and Canada.

Interest levels in this seventh place play-off have plummeted but Ireland must find a way to finish on a high. Apart from the obvious pride that is at stake, the hosts are bidding to secure their automatic place at the 2021 World Cup, which in itself illustrates their fall from grace.

According to head coach Tom Tierney, this afternoon's game is another "cup final" but that mentality hasn't served them well in their last two games in which they were soundly beaten.

To make matters worse, two of Ireland's best performers, captain Claire Molloy and Jenny Murphy miss out due to concussion. Murphy's absence makes the decision to drop Sene Naoupu all the more curious while Sophie Spence also has to make do with a place on the bench again.

"Wales have shown they have a strong set piece, and we've had challenging games with them over the last few seasons in the Six Nations," Tierney said.

There has been very little evidence to suggest that Ireland can pull a decent performance out of the beg but against similarly weak opposition.

Verdict: Ireland

Ireland - H Tyrrell; E Considine, K Fitzhenry, J Deacon, A Miller; N Stapleton, N Cronin; L Peat, C Moloney, A Egan; C Cooney, M-L Reilly; P Fitzpatrick (capt), C Griffin, H O'Brien. Reps: L Lyons, I van Staden, C O'Connor, S Spence, A Baxter, L Muldoon, S Naoupu, M Coyne.

Wales - E Snowsill; E Evans, G Rowland, H Jones, J Joyce; R Wilkins, K Bevan; C Thomas, C Phillips, A Evans; S Lillicrap, M Clay; A Butchers, R Taylor, S Harries. Reps: K Jones, G Pyrs, C Hale, S Powell-Hughes, L George, S Moore, I Berbillion, J Evans.

Ref - C Hodnett (England)

Irish Independent

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