7th Play-off: Ireland too strong for Scotland
By Nathaniel John
From Surrey Sports Park
Ireland claimed seventh place at the Women's Rugby World Cup 2010 with an entertaining 32-8 victory over arch-rivals Scotland at a grey and overcast Surrey Sports Park on Sunday.
Eliza Downey and Niamh Briggs both crossed for braces with Orla Brennan also touching down to ensure Ireland improved on their eighth place finish in the last World Cup four years ago, despite a spirited display from Scotland.
Ireland opened the scoring after only three minutes with a well-struck penalty from Briggs, after Scotland were punished for not releasing the ball when tackled.
With 10 minutes played, the Irish extended their lead to 8-0 when wing Downey crossed for a well-worked team try. Fly half Helen Brosnan spotted a gap behind the Scottish defence and her delicate kick was collected by Mairead Kelly with the ball recycled quickly and spread wide for Downey to score in the corner.
Minutes later, Ireland had scored again, this time through an impressive Briggs effort. The full back collected the ball deep in her own half, before crashing through two attempted Scottish tackles and selling the final defender with a dummy to score under the posts for a 15-0 lead with as many minutes on the clock.
Scotland responded midway through the first half, with a real forward-orientated try finished by Donna Kennedy in what is expected to be her 115th and final test for her country. From a lineout in the Ireland 22, the Scottish pack kept the ball in a rolling maul, forcing the Irish defence back over their own try-line for the veteran of five World Cups to score.
The try instilled confidence into Scotland, who began to assert themselves on the game, putting pressure on the Irish defence. The Scottish endeavour was eventually rewarded in the form of Nicola Halfpenny's boot, the full back slotting a penalty on the stroke of half time to reduce the deficit to 15-8.
Ireland came out a rejuvenated side after the break, and in a reversal of the final 10 minutes of the first half began to camp themselves in Scotland's 22. The Irish soon scored their third try of the game, with Downey once again on the end of a well-worked backs move to go over in the corner, following good work from Briggs and Brosnan.
With 55 minutes on the clock, Ireland scored their fourth try through replacement Brennan after the Irish pack formed a rolling maul which drove over the line, bringing the score to 27-8. Ireland put the gloss on the scoreboard minutes from time when Briggs scored her second try of the afternoon from a fast-paced backs' move.
POST MATCH REACTION:
Ireland coach Philip Doyle: "This is huge for the girls. Seventh in the world is a great achievement for us. I know it's only one place further on for us four years ago but the standard of this World Cup has been hugely impressive so this is a huge achievement for us.
"Because we meet Scotland so much we had to go out there and play our rugby and forget about them for a certain extent, but the second 20 of the first half we played into their claws and we had to dig ourselves out but we got there at the end."
Ireland captain Fiona Coghlan: "We were a little bit disappointed after the USA game, but we knew we had to put that behind us and just come out here and perform today to get that higher ranking that we were looking for. We just went out there with intent particularly in the first half and again in the first 20 of the second half but overall an excellent performance.
"We meet Scotland so often I think we know each other so well by now but it's heart from both sides and everyone gives 100% and we were delighted to come out with the win."
Scotland coach Gary Parker: "I thought Ireland looked hungry, but the first 10 or 15 minutes we didn't play smart rugby. You've got to turn them around and pin them in and Ireland just flood into areas and if you allow them to play on the front foot they are a good side.
"Ireland got that bit of momentum and off they went. In the short term, we are happy to get into the five to eight bracket, but disappointed to finish the tournament the way we did. We played some good rugby this tournament but we didn't play today."
Scotland captain Lynne Reid: "Disappointing end to the tournament, however we finished eighth with a better world ranking. This is a team going forward and moving past the World Cup. While we were disappointed on our last two performances, the way we finished we will certainly take heart on that eighth position.
"We know Ireland are always a physical side and they are going to bring a lot of heart. Back home in Scotland we would have more and more profile and we have Council Members coming down to support us here as well and we will be going back up to Scotland and building on the men's and women's games together."
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