Welsh dash Irish hopes of first home victory

IRISH hopes of a first home victory in the women's Six Nations were cruelly dashed in a 14-13 loss to Wales at Thomond Park on Saturday.

After two minutes, flying Welsh winger Haley Baxter rounded the defence and outsprinted the Irish cover to score from almost halfway. Stacey Saunders converted to give the Welsh a 7-0 lead and left the Irish stunned.

Midway through the half, Baxter pounced on a poor pass and ran in untouched from 65m. Saunders added the extra points from in front of the posts for a 14-0 interval lead. Ireland stormed back after the break and narrowed the gap after 10 minutes when Joy Neville fed Fiona Steed for a try. The difficult conversion was missed by Sarah Jane Belton, but there was a glimmer of hope for Ireland at 14-5.

Steed was to be the hero again, when diving over after a powerful Irish rolling maul stopped short of the Welsh line.

Belton missed the conversion but made amends with a penalty minutes later to cut the deficit to a point.

Ireland had three chances to snatch victory in the final five minutes but could not breach the Welsh defence.

Ireland play England at Twickenham in two weeks' time.

IRELAND: S Belton, N Milne, S Fleming, P Kelly, L Cantwell, J O'Sullivan, L Beamish, F Coghlan, J Lonergan, G McAlliste, R Foley, A Marie McAllister, R Boyd, F Steed (vc), Y Neville. Subs: N Ní Chadhain for N. Milne, M Dolofor G. McAllister.

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