Sport Rugby

Sunday 18 February 2018

Wide-open championship is there for the taking - Briggs

Niamh Briggs
Niamh Briggs
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

The defeat to France has been lingering for two weeks but Ireland women's captain Niamh Briggs believes that the world champions arriving in town will raise her side's game.

Ireland take on England in Ashbourne this evening (7.30) and despite reservations in some quarters about the suitability of the Meath venue after floodlight failure held up the game against France for over 40 minutes, Briggs is adamant that it will not impact the players' focus.

"The girls got into their little groups and there was no major upset.

"We went back out, it happened again, we came back in and Claire Molloy, our resident DJ, banged on the music," Briggs said.

"It's something we've never experienced before, but I don't think it affected us too much."

Like Ireland, England are much changed since last summer's World Cup in France and were beaten by Wales in a major upset on the opening day of the championship.

Since then, they scored 39 points against Italy in an impressive win and Briggs is relishing the chance for this new-look Ireland side to test themselves against the champions.

"You grow up wanting to play in the biggest games and you want to pit yourself against them," the Waterford native said.

"This is it, the perfect opportunity for us to right the wrongs against France."

Ireland still harbour hope of claiming the championship but defeat this evening would almost certainly put an end to that.

"I definitely believe this championship is still there for the taking.

"It's wide open and if we can get a result against England we're very much back in the frame," Briggs added.

England might have changed personnel since last summer but they carry serious threats right throughout their side and are likely to have too much for Ireland.

Verdict: England

Ireland - N Briggs (c); H Tyrrell, J Murphy, K Fitzhenry, A Miller; N Stapleton, L Muldoon; R O'Reilly, G Bourke, A Egan; S Spence, M L Reilly; P Fitzpatrick, C Molloy, H O'Brien. Reps: S Mimnagh, F Hayes, F O'Brien, O Fitzsimons, K Norris, T Rosser, J Shiels, S Naoupu.

England - L Cattell; R Laybourn, A Brown, C Large, S Gregson; K McClean (c), B Blackburn; R Clark, V Fletwood, L Keates; T Taylor, A Scott; A Matthews, H Gallagher, H Millar-Mills. Reps: A Cokayne, H Kerr, J Lucas, R Burnfield, H Field, F Davidson, M Goddard, A Reed.

REF - L Berard (USA)

Irish Independent

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