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Ireland’s coach Adam Griggs

Ireland’s coach Adam Griggs

SPORTSFILE

Ireland’s coach Adam Griggs

The presumption that the Women's Six Nations is a two-tier competition will get its first airing today as all three tournament matches are played.

Coach Adam Griggs talked the right talk all last week about how Ireland have made a commitment to play the tournament with intent.

The group has gathered confidence from how they have been coming together in their camps in between losing to Wales (15-13) in November and turning that around (22-12) in what was admittedly a training game in The Vale two weeks ago.

The real value was in the improvement shown in attack, ramping it up for four tries in what was pleasing confirmation of the progress made in two short months.

The presence of Philip Doyle as Scotland's head coach would be unsettling were it not that his achievements with Ireland came a rugby lifetime ago.

Still, the guy they call 'Goose' is a reminder of the heights Irish women's rugby once scaled, grabbing a Grand Slam in 2013 before becoming the first Irish side, male or female, to beat New Zealand at the 2014 World Cup where they finished a best-ever fourth in the competition.

The Scots view Doyle as a coup in their ambition to be more competitive and more successful than they have been in recent seasons, dropping from fourth in 2017 to fifth in 2018 and last in 2019.Before that, Scotland drank with the 'wooden spoon' every year from 2011 to 2016, six straight seasons.

Doyle has a hell of a job on his hands and Griggs should be able to make it even harder this afternoon as Ireland can ease their way in, possibly with a bonus point.

Of course, Ireland can and will take nothing for granted given how their star has fallen in the last three years, dropping from second in 2017 to third in 2018 and fifth last year, their worst finish since 2006.

The onus of responsibility will move from the shoulders of Griggs to those of his players once the first whistle sounds.

The temptation to play too wide too soon can backfire.

Ireland must earn the right to go wide through the aggression and accuracy of their forwards, led by Lindsay Peat, captain Ciara Griffin and number eight Anna Caplice. Only then can they convert the chances that will give Ireland the points.

Ireland: L Delany; A Doyle, S Naoupu, M Claffey, B Parsons; E Murphy K Dayne; L Peat, C Moloney, L Djougang, A McDermott, N Fryday, C Griffin (capt), E McMahon, A Caplice. Replacements: V Dabanovich-O'Mahony, L Feely, L Lyons, C Cooney, D Wall; N Cronin, C Keohane, L Sheehan.

Scotland: C Rollie; R Lloyd, H Smith, L Thomson, M Gaffney; H Nelson, M McDonald; L Bartlett, L Skeldon, M Forsyth, E Wassell, S Bonar, R Malcolm (capt), R McLochlan, J Konkel. Replacements: M Wright, P Muzambe, L Cockburn, S Cattigan, L McMillan; S Law, E Tonkin, A Wallace.

  • Ireland v Scotland, Energia Park, 1.0

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