Philip Doyle’s side set out their stall with their performance against the Eagles in almost 30 degree heat in Marcoussis outside Paris yesterday.
Of course, reigning champions New Zealand are up next on Tuesday, but with the Kiwis dispatching Kazakhstan 79-5, Ireland’s chances of making a play-off are looking good, now that they’ve dispatched the Americans.
There were no major celebrations at the final whistle in front of a strong Irish support — just satisfaction at a job well done.
The physicality of the States, whose assistant strength and conditioning coach is Corkman Ian Jones, was a major concern coming into this fixture, but Ireland were valorous in defence, only slipping up twice in letting Lynelle Kuger break through and touch down after a neat sidestep on the fourth minute, before Carmer Farmer went over for their second at the start of the second-half (17-20).
Ireland could have unravelled at that point, but they didn’t. They had led at the turnaround thanks to a try just on the stroke of half-time by former Waterford ladies footballer Niamh Briggs, who finished with an impressive 18-point tally, having also kicked three penalties and two conversions.
Their first try came in the 30th minute when, with the USA down to 14 players, Ailis Egan capitalised on the numerical advantage, pushing over the line thanks to valiant efforts by Sophie Spence and skipper Coghlan.
Lynne Cantwell, playing in her fourth World Cup, steadied the ship brilliantly any time the States looked like gaining momentum, and with Alison Miller and sub Jenny Murphy injecting much-need pace to Ireland’s game in the second half, they almost always had the Americans on the back foot.
The kicking boot of Briggs too had a huge part to play in the territorial tactics, and that’s likely to be the weapon Ireland will use again when they face New Zealand.
N Briggs (try 1, pen 3, con 2), A Egan (try).
L Kugler (try), C Farmer (try), Rozier (con 2, pen 1).
N Briggs, A Baxter, L Cantwell, G Davitt, A Miller, N Stapleton, T Rosser, F Coghlan (C), G Bourke, A Egan, S Spence, ML Reilly, S Fleming, C Molloy, H O’Brien.
Fitzpatrick for Fleming (55), Murphy for Davitt (56), Guest for Spence (73) and Muldoon for Rosser (75).
H Rogers, K Augustyn, J Burke, C Farmer, S Walsh, J Potter, L Kugler, K Daley (C), J Tseng, K Rozier, S Anderson, E Bydwell, B Baravilala, V McGee, M Bizer.
Chobot for Burle and Turley for Kugler (52), Blaney for Walsh (55), Wagner for Augustyn (57), Owsiany for Tseng (67) and Wilson for Rogers (72).
S Trumbull (Canada).