Monday 18 December 2017

Emotional day for Wales makes them a dangerous banana skin

Ireland's Sene Naoupu. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Ireland's Sene Naoupu. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile newsdesk

On Six Nations form, Ireland's women have the upward trajectory against Wales today, who are coming off a shock loss to Scotland.

Welsh coach Rowland Phillips - whose daughter Carys is captain - made a lot of changes last time out which kind of back-fired and he's made seven more now.

Yet Wales are a banana skin, not least because they sadly suffered the tragic death of winger Elli Norkett in a car crash last month.

The wing was only 20, the youngest member of their last World Cup squad, and her loss will galvanise them. They will be thinking of her and performing for her.

After the Sevens debacle Alison Miller, Sene Naoupu and Hannah Tyrrell have come straight back in, and Kim Flood has moved from the wing to full-back.

Despite all that controversy, we still beat France - it was the worst French display I've ever seen - because the pack took control of that game and played really cleverly. It was old-school Munster 10-woman rugby.

We played to our strengths: to our pack and our set-pieces, and Maz Reilly's decision-making in the line-out has been excellent all season.

Our scrum could be vulnerable because we are a bit high. Ireland need to be careful there, stick with the pack, work through the phases and suck in the Welsh, who get sucked in really easily.

That should create the space out wide.

I always found games against Wales quite messy . They tend to be really negative around the breakdown. They lie there and try and get away with as much as possible, so their penalty count around there is usually quite high.

Today's kick-off is unusually early (11.30). Hopefully fans will get up for it. The players have no choice and will probably have their usual pre-match meal - chicken and pasta - for breakfast!

Irish Independent

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