Irish women's rugby team record historic win over New Zealand
The Irish women's rugby team produced a heroic display to record a historic win over world champions New Zealand in the World Cup in Paris to put themselves within touching distance of the semi-finals.
The Black Ferns have dominated women's rugby winning the last four World Cups but Philip Doyle's brilliant ladies ripped up the script to record a 17-14 win. Amazingly, this is the first time since 1991 that New Zealand have lost in the World Cup as Ireland move to top of Pool B, with the final game against Kazakhstan to come on Friday.
Kelly Brazier opened the scoring for New Zealand when she split the posts with a penalty and when Selcia Winiata went over for a try shortly afterwards, things were looking ominous for the Girls in Green.
The subsequent conversion was missed to give Ireland a glimmer of hope and they duly replied with a try of their own after 25 minutes.
Heather O’Brien got the vital score after a period of sustained pressure and Niamh Briggs converted to make it just a one-point game going into the break.
A Brazier penalty extended New Zealand’s lead soon after the restart and New Zealand were slowly starting to turn the screw.
But the Irish girls dug deep and hit back with another try when Alison Miller touched down after taking a Briggs' pass and Briggs herself made no mistake to send the conversion between the posts and Ireland were 14-11 ahead.
Brazier and Briggs swapped penalties and the Irish heroes held on to record a historic win.
“They are at the top of the world. That’s where we said we wanted to be. We’re not there yet. This is only step two of the process. But, we’re on the right track,” said Ireland captain Fiona Coghlan.
NEW ZEALAND:: Selica Winiata (Manawatu); Renee Wickliffe (Counties Manukau), Huriana Manuel (Auckland), Amiria Rule (Canterbury), Honey Hireme (Waikato); Kelly Brazier (Otago), Emma Jensen (Canterbury); Kathleen Wilton (Otago), Fiao’o Fa’amausili (Auckland) (capt), Aleisha Nelson (Auckland), Eloise Blackwell (Auckland), Jackie Patea (Wellington), Rawinia Everitt (Counties Manukau), Linda Itunu (Auckland), Casey Robertson (Canterbury).
Replacements: Stephanie Te Ohaere-Fox (Canterbury), Ruth McKay (Manawatu), Justine Lavea (Auckland), Aroha Savage (Counties Manukau), Kendra Cocksedge (Canterbury), Claire Richardson (Auckland), Shakira Baker (Manawatu).
IRELAND: Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster); Ashleigh Baxter (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Lynne Cantwell (Richmond/Exile), Grace Davitt (Cooke/Ulster), Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Tania Rosser (Blackrock/Leinster); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster) (capt), Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians/Munster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Heather O’Brien (Highfield/Munster).
Replacements: Sharon Lynch (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster), Laura Guest (Highfield/Munster), Siobhan Fleming (Tralee/Munster), Larissa Muldoon (Bristol/Exile), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Vikki McGinn (Blackrock/Leinster).
Referee: Leah Berard (USA)