Fans fly in to help Ireland finish the job

Full-back Niamh Briggs has applauded the Irish support in France and at home, and hopes Ireland’s Rugby World Cup adventure continues to gain momentum.

Fans fly in to help Ireland finish the job

This afternoon, the Pool B table-toppers face Kazakhstan in their final group game, and more fans have made their way to Marcoussis to join the hundreds who had a front row seat for the greatest moment in Irish women’s rugby history on Tuesday.

“The support here has been incredible. Even when we came out for the national anthems against New Zealand we had to draw our breaths because it was like playing at home.

“It’s great to see so many out here and the support we’ve been getting too at home has been fantastic,” added the former Waterford ladies footballer.

Victory today following the wins over the World Champions and the USA would see Fiona Coghlan’s side top Pool B with 13 points, and almost certainly avoid New Zealand in the semi-final when the tournament moves to Paris and Stade Jean-Bouin on Wednesday.

“We were delighted to get the win, but we’ve great self-belief in our squad,” said Briggs, who is currently fifth on the top scorers list with 25 points — 11 off of the leader, Magali Harvey of Canada.

“‘Goose’ (head coach Philip Doyle), Greg (McWilliams) and Brax (forwards coach Peter Bracken) instill that in us, and we’ve really shown in the last two games that we can win anything once we put our minds to it.

“We had a really good game plan against New Zealand, but we met the next morning and we were ready to prepare for Kazakhstan. The last two victories won’t count for anything unless we can get that win,” she added.

Briggs will be rested for today’s clash, as Doyle made 10 changes in personnel.

Heather O’Brien is recovering from a fractured finger sustained in the closing minutes against New Zealand, but the Highfield RFc star is likely to be in contention should they make the semis. Her Highfield teammate, Laura Guest, will feature in a third World Cup campaign, while the entire backline is changed, with Jackie Sheils, Vikki McGinn and Hannah Casey all making their first starts of the tournament.

Larissa Muldoon is at scrum-half, with Tania Rosser moving to out-half, and Orla Fitzsimons, Shannon Lynch, Fiona Hayes and Kerri-Ann Craddock also start.

Captain Fiona Coghlan, Ailis Egan, Sophie Spence, Claire Molloy, Nora Stapleton, Alison Miller and Ashleigh Baxter are named in the replacements.

IRELAND: J Sheils, V McGinn, L Cantwell, G Davitt, H Casey, T Rosser, L Muldoon, F Hayes, G Bourke, KA Craddock, L Guest, O Fitzsimons, S Lynch, S Fleming, P Fitzpatrick.

Replacements: F Coghlan, A Egan, S Spence, C Molloy, N Stapleton, A Miller, A Baxter.

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