Griggs stays positive after Ireland show fight in defeat
England 37 Ireland 15
This game got away from Ireland in the last 10 minutes but Adam Griggs admitted he was happy to see his side fight to the end against the World Cup runners-up at Twickenham.
After half-an-hour Ireland looked to be set for a heavy defeat after three England tries but once they added some tempo there were some brilliant moments for the Irish girls.
Outstanding tries from Eimear Considine and Lauren Delany just before half-time had Ireland five points back at the interval, but a strong second half saw England pull clear - although Claire Molloy's deserved try late on showed their determination.
"We asked for a performance that would be better than last week (defeat v USA). We wanted to make sure we went out and showed we valued the jersey and I think we did that," said Griggs afterwards.
"We're disappointed with the scoreline as it probably doesn't reflect how hard we've battled. We kept England under pressure but they scored a couple of late tries. We were in that game and we can take heart from that and some of the situations."
Griggs took charge of the Ireland team on an interim basis ahead of last year's Six Nations, but he says he is finally seeing his team perform how he wants. Last week's loss against USA was disappointing, but he's confident that they are in a good place ahead of the Six Nations.
"I think they're starting to get a feel for (my game-plan) now. Look, it's a battle and we have to manage the game a little bit better.
"We definitely wanted to play with tempo and put England under pressure and the girls did that for the most part. It's about when you get into those right areas, you've got to make sure you capitalise on them and show a bit more composure.
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"That's what this Test match is for, when you're under the heat in Twickenham, which is no easy challenge for us, we'll be better off for it."
Injuries were a regular threat in this physical clash. Ellen Murphy was handed her debut after just 18 minutes when Nikki Caughey limped off, while hooker Emma Hooban and her replacement Sarah Mimnagh, as well as Jeamie Deacon, were forced to retire hurt.
Longford native Murphy certainly took her chance to impress and along with fellow first-timer Juliet Short they will be realistic options for Griggs come Six Nations time, where Ireland open their campaign at home to England.
Griggs said he was thrilled with the impact he received off the bench with the team in a spot of bother.
"They (the replacements) were outstanding for us. You always have to be prepared to come and that you're always ready to go. There are a lot of sore bodies in there."
Ireland had fallen behind to tries from Heather Kerr, Kelly Smith and Vickii Cornborough, but Considine's battling score was followed by Delany's brilliant individual effort just before the break.
Inspired by the hugely talented Leah Lyons - who finished the game at hooker - Ireland continued to battle, but a hat-trick from Lydia Thompson in the space of 18 minutes put paid to Ireland's hopes.
Molloy was another brilliant performer for Ireland and she rounded off some incessant phase play to score in the final quarter, but it wasn't enough for Ireland.
SCORERS - England: H Kerr, K Smith, H Botterman, L Thompson 3, C O'Donnell tries; K Daley-Mclean con. Ireland: E Considine, L Delany, C Molloy tries.
England - S McKenna; L Thompson, C Williams, T Heard (R Burford 57), K Smith; Z Harrison (K Daley-Mclean 57), L Riley (C Macdonald 74); V Cornborough (E Perry 70), H Kerr (L Davies 57), H Botterman (S Brown 62); Z Aldcroft (C O'Donnell 62), A Scott; P Cleall (M Packer h-t), V Fleetwood, S Hunter (capt).
Ireland - L Delany; E Considine, S Naoupu (capt), M Claffey, L Sheehan (B Parsons 70); N Caughey (E Murphy 18), N Cronin (A Hughes 62); L Peat (L Feely 65), E Hooban (S Mimnagh 24) (F Reidy h-t), L Lyons; A McDermott, N Fryday (E McMahon 57); J Deacon (C McLaughlin 52 HIA), C Molloy, J Short.
Ref - A Barrett-Theron (South Africa).