Friday 19 January 2018

Rampant Canada overwhelm Irish women as Tierney rings changes

Carolyn McEwen of Canada is tackled by Ireland’s Zoe Grattage at Belfield. Photo: Sportsfile
Carolyn McEwen of Canada is tackled by Ireland’s Zoe Grattage at Belfield. Photo: Sportsfile

Daire Walsh

It was a day to forget for Ireland Women at the UCD Bowl yesterday afternoon as Tom Tierney's charges suffered a heavy 48-7 defeat to Canada in the second of three November Series Internationals at the Belfield venue.

Ireland retained just six players from the team that started in the defeat to England last Sunday, and with less then seven minutes gone on the clock, Canada - who were runners-up in the 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup - broke the deadlock through lock LaToya Blackwood at the end of a sustained period of pressure.

Inside centre Andrea Burk added the bonuses to this score with relative ease, and the Capilano RFC star subsequently enhanced the Canadian lead with a clinically-struck penalty.

Ireland spent much of the opening period on the back foot, and after Canada spread the play towards the left flank in the 28th-minute, winger Elissa Alaric's offload put fullback Julianne Zussman through for a routine converted touchdown. This was another hammer blow for Ireland, and when a rampant Canada opted for a scrum penalty at the tail end of the half, a Karen Paquin try helped Francois Ratier's side to establish a 24-0 interval cushion.

As a result, the hosts were left with a lot of ground to make up on the resumption, but with seven players introduced from the replacements' bench by the 42nd minute (including a completely new front-row), they did have a spring in their step.

Indeed, their persistence was eventually rewarded in the form of a Nikki Caughey five-pointer seven minutes after the restart, and the Ulster flyhalf was successful from the bonus kick that followed. Yet, this only proved to be a temporary respite for Ireland, as Caughey's opposite number - Emily Belchos - dotted down in the left corner for a superb individual score. Burk was off target from her fourth conversion attempt of the tie, but she did add to her account following a well-worked try by Kayla Mack.

Former Dublin ladies GAA star Lindsay Peat was in the sin bin during this juncture in the play, and in her absence, Ireland shipped a second try to pacy Canadian winger Magali Harvey on the right-hand side 13 minutes from the end.

It was from then on a case of damage limitation for Ireland as the final whistle approached, but Zussman completed the rout with her second try of the game.

Scorers - Ireland Women: N Caughey try, con.

Canada Women: J Zussman 2 tries, L Blackwood, K Paquin, E Belchos, K Mack, M Harvey try each; A Burk pen, 5 cons.

Ireland Women: M Coyne; N Kavanagh, N Fowley, S Naoupu, A Miller; N Caughey, M Healy; F Hayes, Z Grattage, F Reidy; K Norris, N Fryday; C Cooney, A Caplice, P Fitzpatrick.

Replacements: J Shiels for Coyne (33), L Lyons for Grattage, L Peat for Hayes, A Egan for Reidy, E Anthony for Norris, L Muldoon for Healy (all h/t), C McLaughlin for Fowley (42), Hayes for Caplice (63), C Pearse for Fitzpatrick (64), Lyons for Hayes (67).

Canada Women: J Zussman; E Alarie, A Tessier, A Burk, M Harvey; E Belchos, C Guthrie; C McEwen, L Russell, D Menin; L Blackwood, K Mack; J Grusnick, K Paquin, K Russell.

Replacements: T Beukeboom for Blackwood (50), M Higgs for Belchos (55), B Mervin for Paquin (61), B Waters for Tessier, B Miller for Guthrie (both 65), O DeMerchant for McEwen, G Boag for L Russell, D Stamatakis for Menin (all 70).

Referee: M LeMatte (France)

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