Sport Rugby

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Peat 'heartbroken' as Ireland are forced to face the harsh realities of disastrous campaign

Ireland 17 Wales 27

Ireland's Nora Stapleton gets the ball away during the match against Wales. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Ireland's Nora Stapleton gets the ball away during the match against Wales. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Orla Bannon

Lindsay Peat says Ireland must grow the numbers and improve strength in depth after a disastrous World Cup if they're to close the gap on the elite nations.

The under-performing hosts went into their own tournament with high expectations of at least emulating their 2014 semi-final appearance, but a third successive defeat on Saturday condemned them to an eighth-place finish. It also means Ireland will have to qualify for the next World Cup.

"When you look at other nations like France, England and New Zealand they have a very deep bench and that is something we need to look at," said Peat, "especially in the front-row and the amount of work we get through."

Head coach Tom Tierney, who confirmed afterwards he will not be seeking a new contract after three years in charge, admitted he was "disappointed" with injured player Ruth O'Reilly's newspaper interview on Saturday. It suggested he lost the dressing-room earlier this year when three players, Hannah Tyrrell, Alison Miller and Sene Naoupu, were redirected to the Sevens' circuit in Las Vegas on the week of the Six Nations game against France.

Peat: ‘We’re hurting and heartbroken’. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Peat: ‘We’re hurting and heartbroken’. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Tierney is contracted to the IRFU until the end of the year but was unmoved when asked if he would be getting be involved with one of Ireland's male under-age sides.

On O'Reilly's interview, Peat insisted the players hadn't read it, so it had no impact on what was an underwhelming display by Ireland.

"We are on a media ban from 12 o'clock the day before a game so I actually haven't seen any media," she said. "And my family obviously haven't seen it - otherwise they'd have given me a text.

"Our focus today was on getting a win, ending on a high and getting automatic qualification for the next World Cup and I stand here heartbroken that we couldn't get that and not give those fans a big thank-you with a performance and result. We're hurting and just want to say 'thank-you' and 'sorry' to everyone."

Saturday's game at Kingspan Stadium was a dour struggle, five of the six tries scored by both teams grunting efforts by the forwards, usually off driving mauls.

Paula Fitzpatrick scored her fourth try of the tournament from one such move after 12 minutes, giving Ireland a bright start.

Ireland's Alison Miller makes a break during the match against Wales. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Ireland's Alison Miller makes a break during the match against Wales. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

But their familiar first-half failings came back to haunt them, Wales hitting back to lead 10-7 at half-time with tries from Sioned Harries and Carys Phillips putting them 22-7 in front.

Peat gave Ireland brief hope with an inspirational lunge for the line in the 64th minute but there was too much ground to make up and Wales nailed a fourth try soon after.

Given Ireland's modest size and physique compared to the elite nations it seemed strange they played with so little width. When they moved the ball out wide, they looked dangerous, with Katie Fitzhenry's late try the only score by an under-employed back-line.

"Unfortunately it summed up our tournament, we fought to the end but it hasn't been good enough," admitted Peat, 36, who confirmed she intends playing on. We tried to improve, but when you try so hard, it doesn't come naturally."

Scorers - Ireland: Tries: P Fitzpatrick, L Peat, K Fitzhenry; Con: N Stapleton. Wales: Tries: C Thomas, C Phillips, S Harries, S Powell-Hughes; Pen: R Wilkins; Cons: R Wilkins (2).

Ireland: H Tyrrell; E Considine, K Fitzhenry, J Deacon, A Miller; N Stapleton (S Naoupu 54), N Cronin (L Muldoon 54); L Peat, C Moloney, A Egan (C O'Connor 23 (L Lyons 56)); C Cooney (S Spence 47), ML Reilly; P Fitzpatrick, C Griffin (I Van Staden 71), H O'Brien (A Baxter 54). Replacements not used: M Coyne.

Wales: E Snowsill; J Joyce, G Rowland (I Berbillion 80), H Jones, E Evans; R Wilkins, K Bevan; C Thomas, C Phillips, A Evans; S Lillicrap (S Powell-Hughes 65), M Clay; A Butchers (C Hale 62), R Taylor, S Harries. Replacements not used: K Jones, G Pyrs, L George, S Moore, J Evans.

Ref- C Hodnett (England).

Irish Independent

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