Monday 22 January 2018

Red army's influence keeps Ireland firing ahead of Six Nations

Munster's Niamh Briggs, Niamh Kavanagh and Ashling Hutchins all contributed handsomely to Ireland's six-try 39-7 victory over Spain last Sunday at snowy Ashbourne RFC, a game that served as the ideal warm-up for the squad ahead of their opening game of the Women's Six Nations against Wales.

Winger Kavanagh gave Ireland the ideal start with a third-minute try and her Munster team-mate Briggs, operating at full-back rather than the centre berth she enjoyed in last year's Six Nations, added the extras for a seven-point lead.

The visitors, however, responded in the best possible fashion, Laura Esbri taking advantage of some slack Irish defence to score under the posts.

Briggs landed a 25th-minute penalty to edge her side back in front and a late Alison Miller try put Ireland 15-7 up as the sides sought the welcome warmth of the dressing-room at half-time.

Ireland enjoyed the better of the exchanges in the second half.

Hutchins extended the lead before further tries from Sophie Spence, Stacey-Lea Kennedy and a second from Miller earned the girls in green the Rosie Gallagher Memorial Trophy.

Rosie Gallagher, an all-action flanker, played her rugby with Cooke RFC while also representing Ulster.

Rosie won four caps for her country between February 1999 and May 2000 and sadly passed away after a short illness in August 2003.

This trophy was played for between Ireland and Spain in the Six Nations in 2004, 2005 and 2006, before Spain were replaced by Italy to bring the women's championship in line with the men's tournament.

Ireland -- N Briggs; N Kavanagh, G Davitt, J Murphy, A Miller; L Cantwell, A Davis; F Coghlan (capt), G Bourke, A Egan, ML Reilly, S Spencer, S Fleming, C Molloy, J Neville. Reps: F Hayes, H O'Brien, L Guest, L Day, L Dargan, S Lea-Kennedy, A Baxter, A Hutchings, L Muldoon, N Fitzgerald, S Houston.

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