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Ireland secure seismic bonus-point victory over Wales

Cork , Ireland - 13 April 2024; Eve Higgins of Ireland, centre, celebrates with teammates after scoring their side's second try during the Women's Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and Wales at Virgin Media Park in Cork. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ireland secured their first Women’s Six Nations win in eight matches with a seismic 36-5 victory over Wales at Cork’s Virgin Media Park.

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The bonus-point result propels Ireland from fifth in the Women’s Six Nations table to third with six points while Wales remain in sixth with only one point after three rounds.

First-half tries from Aoife Wafer, Eve Higgins, and Neve Jones sent Ireland into the break 21-0 up, with Dannah O’Brien’s conversions contributing six points.

Ireland went on to score another two tries in the second half as Katie Corrigan scored her second international try before Beibhinn Parsons rounded off the scoring.

Gwennan Hopkins scored the only points for Wales on her debut from the bench as she broke through the Irish defence in the 65th minute.

Fixture
Womens Six Nations
Ireland Women's
36 - 5
Full-time
Wales Women's
All Stats and Data

A rampaging run from Aoife Wafer gave Ireland the first try of the match, her red scrum cap powering through three defenders as the home side worked their way out wide for the opening score of the match. Wafer was a shining star in Ireland’s victory with countless ferocious carries and a stunning performance around the park earning herself player of the match.

Their lead was extended to seven points through the boot of O’Brien after a positive opening quarter for Scott Bemand’s side.

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Co-captain Edel McMahon stole a Welsh lineout to set up a fantastic break from Aoibheann Reilly which saw her dart down the middle of the pitch, but the scrum-half was taken down within five metres of scoring. The break did however set up Ireland’s second try, as Higgins soon took them over the line with a strong solo carry from the breakdown.

Five metres later, they were on the board again, firmly stamping their authority within the first half as hooker Neve Jones dotted down from the maul for their third try, followed by a third successive conversion from O’Brien.

Wafer drew Ireland close to a fourth try with a winding run, demolishing the Welsh defence until she was caught within five metres. A knock-on from Hannah Jones gave Ireland another chance to attack from the scrum, from which Wafer once again powered through the red shirts. Ireland pushed the Welsh defence through multiple phases, but Alex Callender won the turnover penalty to deny Ireland the first-half bonus point and provide a moment of relief for her team-mates.

Ireland’s defence was then called into action as Lleucu George broke into Irish territory, but the home side piled on the pressure as the clock ticked down to force the knock-on from Sisilia Tuipulotu.

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A positive first quarter transformed into a positive first half for the girls in green as they rounded off the 40 minutes with a successful defensive effort to send them into the break with a 21-point lead.

Within seconds of the whistle being blown after half-time, Ireland had secured the bonus point. Jenny Hesketh called for the mark but her kick stayed firmly on the pitch and sailed into Irish hands before Corrigan charged down a subsequent kick from George to run in the fourth try under the posts.

O’Brien continued her perfect record from the tee as she converted Corrigan’s try before extending Ireland’s lead with a penalty to make the scoreline 31-0 after 49 minutes.

Clíodhna Moloney made her richly deserved and long-awaited return for Ireland in the 51st minute to earn her 32nd cap, two years since her last.

Parsons was set free down the wing by Wafer for Ireland’s fifth try of the match with a clinical finish to exploit the Welsh defence, calling her sevens skills into play as she palmed off lone defender Hesketh and sped away to score. Although O’Brien was unable to convert, Ireland had the 36-0 lead.

Wales’s first points came in the 65th minute as Carys Cox made a fantastic break down the middle of the pitch before Hopkins muscled her way over the line to score on her international debut. Referee Sara Cox initially thought the try to be held up by O’Brien, the TMO ruled that the ball had touched the ground and the five points were awarded.

Wales ramped up the attack but had a second try disallowed due to a forward pass and Ireland saw out the match to take the well-earned victory, one that has been a long time coming.

Next week will see Ireland travel to Twickenham Stadium to face England, who after their win against Scotland earlier in the day are three from three in their 2024 Six Nations campaign.Wales will regroup before facing last year’s runners-up France in round four.

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D
Diarmid 9 hours ago
Players and referees must cut out worrying trend in rugby – Andy Goode

The guy had just beasted himself in a scrum and the blood hadn't yet returned to his head when he was pushed into a team mate. He took his weight off his left foot precisely at the moment he was shoved and dropped to the floor when seemingly trying to avoid stepping on Hyron Andrews’ foot. I don't think he was trying to milk a penalty, I think he was knackered but still switched on enough to avoid planting 120kgs on the dorsum of his second row’s foot. To effectively “police” such incidents with a (noble) view to eradicating play acting in rugby, yet more video would need to be reviewed in real time, which is not in the interest of the game as a sporting spectacle. I would far rather see Farrell penalised for interfering with the refereeing of the game. Perhaps he was right to be frustrated, he was much closer to the action than the only camera angle I've seen, however his vocal objection to Rodd’s falling over doesn't legitimately fall into the captain's role as the mouthpiece of his team - he should have kept his frustration to himself, that's one of the pillars of rugby union. I appreciate that he was within his rights to communicate with the referee as captain but he didn't do this, he moaned and attempted to sway the decision by directing his complaint to the player rather than the ref. Rugby needs to look closely at the message it wants to send to young players and amateur grassroots rugby. The best way to do this would be to apply the laws as they are written and edit them where the written laws no longer apply. If this means deleting laws such as ‘the put in to the scrum must be straight”, so be it. Likewise, if it is no longer necessary to respect the referee’s decision without questioning it or pre-emptively attempting to sway it (including by diving or by shouting and gesticulating) then this behaviour should be embraced (and commercialised). Otherwise any reference to respecting the referee should be deleted from the laws. You have to start somewhere to maintain the values of rugby and the best place to start would be giving a penalty and a warning against the offending player, followed by a yellow card the next time. People like Farrell would rapidly learn to keep quiet and let their skills do the talking.

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