Sunday 27 May 2018

Ireland pay heavy price for massive error count

Ireland 12 Scotland 15

Ireland’s Paula Fitzpatrick is tackled by Sarah Bonar, above, and Lana Skeldon of Scotland during yesterday’s clash at Donnybrook. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Ireland’s Paula Fitzpatrick is tackled by Sarah Bonar, above, and Lana Skeldon of Scotland during yesterday’s clash at Donnybrook. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

It was a case of one step forward, two steps back, as problems of old came back to haunt Ireland.

Scotland are improving, but even still, Ireland should have had enough quality to see them off. Instead they were condemned to their second Six Nations defeat before a daunting final trip to England on Friday.

Ciara Griffin of Ireland is tackled by Jenny Maxwell of Scotland. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Ciara Griffin of Ireland is tackled by Jenny Maxwell of Scotland. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Countless knock-ons and unforced errors halted any momentum and the visitors took full advantage.

Given how well Ireland had performed against Wales last time out, they took a big step backwards at Donnybrook yesterday as they were left to rue a slow start to the game.

Adam Griggs' side barely fired a shot in what was a poor first-half showing. They were unable to work their way through the phases and as a result Scotland grew in confidence.

Katie Fitzhenry was aggressive in midfield, but the lack of cohesion in the back-line was concerning.

Lisa Thompson of Scotland is tackled by Fiona Reidy of Ireland. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Lisa Thompson of Scotland is tackled by Fiona Reidy of Ireland. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Up front it took the pack until late into the second-half to get the upper hand on the Scots, but as soon as they did, they obliterated them, particularly at scrum time.

It was too little too late, however, as Scotland built on their slender 3-0 half-time lead before delivering the knockout blow by scoring a converted try when they were down to 14 players on the hour mark.

"Look, I don't think we were in the game really," Griggs conceded.

"Scotland started off a lot better. We were lucky to be only 3-0 down at half-time. We didn't fire a shot.

Lisa Thompson of Scotland is tackled by Fiona Reidy of Ireland. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Lisa Thompson of Scotland is tackled by Fiona Reidy of Ireland. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

"It was a little bit of preparation and making sure that we are switched on and focused in all of our small details. Our preparation wasn't quite as good.

"I don't think we really played rugby until the 76th minute where we actually started to put some phases together."

Griggs was left frustrated by referee Ian Tempest's reluctance to award Ireland a penalty try after his side had demolished the Scotland scrum four times in quick concession.

By that stage a Helen Nelson try two minutes after the restart extended the visitors' lead, before Tempest did go under the posts for an automatic seven pointer for Ireland.

Scotland were creaking under the scrum pressure, much to the delight of Mike Ross on the touchline, and Ireland cranked it up a notch when Megan Kennedy was sent to the bin.

Siobhan McMillan of Scotland is tackled by Claire Molloy, right, and Alisa Hughes of Ireland. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Siobhan McMillan of Scotland is tackled by Claire Molloy, right, and Alisa Hughes of Ireland. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Frustrating

It seemed for all the world that the ref would go under the posts for another penalty try, but Ireland's decision making was poor as on the fourth scrum they opted to move the ball wide rather than keeping it tight.

"It was frustrating," Griggs admitted. "I have to question when we get four scrum penalties on their line. We get a yellow card from it, but no penalty try.

"Phases before that we got a penalty try and no yellow card, so that was confusing to me.

"I would have liked us to force the referee to give us the penalty try. That's again, our game management, making sure that when we are down that end of the field, we turn it into points."

Scotland took huge confidence from repelling the barrage of pressure and struck for the killer blow when Chloe Rollie intercepted Ciara Griffin's pass and ran 80 metres to score.

Hooker Lana Skeldon added the difficult extras to leave her side 15-7 in front with 20 minutes remaining.

Ten minutes later, Paula Fitzpatrick powered over to give Ireland hope of completing the comeback, but Kim Flood dragged the conversion wide.

Ireland threw everything at Scotland in the closing stages, but their challenge came to a predictable halt with another sloppy error.

"Scotland deserved the win, we didn't execute our basics well enough," Fitzpatrick conceded.

"It's really important that we bounce back, even mentally, for the girls who are continuing on next year. We want to finish with a performance that we are proud of."

Doing so in England, against one of the best teams in the world, will be a mammoth task.

Ireland - K Flood; M Williams (L Galvin 61), F Fitzhenry, S Naoupu, H Tyrrell; N Briggs (M Claffey 67), A Hughes (N Cronin 65); L Peat (C O'Connor 74), C Moloney, L Lyons (F Reidy 63); A McDermott, O Fitzsimons (A Baxter 45); C Griffin, (capt), C Molloy, P Fitzpatrick.

Scotland - C Rollie; L Musgrove, L Thomson, H Nelson (L Harris 69), H Smith; L Martin (capt) S Law (J Maxwell h-t); S McMillan (L Smith 53), L Skeldon, M Kennedy (J Rettie 67); E Wassell, D McCormack; S Bonar (L McMillan h-t), R Malcolm (S Cattigan 74), J Konkel.

 

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