Ireland Women's Head coach Tom Tierney predicts bright future despite England defeat

Women’s International

Ireland Women's Head coach Tom Tierney predicts bright future despite England defeat

A late England try from Izzy Noel-Smith consigned Ireland, who named six uncapped players in their starting XV, to defeat in an historic first Autumn International match.

The defeat means Ireland are still seeking a first away win against the Red Roses, having beaten them at home in both 2013 and earlier this year en route to Six Nations glory.

However, Tierney says this narrow defeat to the world champions is the beginning of their work for the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup, which Ireland will host.

“Our goal is to have this game be the start of a long-term plan — the new players aren’t in here to win one or two caps.

“They have the potential, it is all about how they keep improving and it is our job to facilitate that improvement.

“It is the first step in a lot of the girls’ careers and we feel they have the ability and promise to become critical players for Ireland going forward at an exciting time.

Uncapped starters included centre Ainé Donnelly, front row Cliodhna Moloney, locks Elaine Anthony and Ciara Cooney and wings Mairead Coyne and Jeamie Deacon.

Ireland suffered from a lack of scoring opportunities when England hooker Emma Croker was yellow carded early in the second-half.

Captain Niamh Briggs had almost secured a deserved draw after slotting a difficult late penalty to level the scores at 3-3, atoning for an earlier miss.

The full-back explained that the less experienced players had impressed in difficult circumstances, showing an ability to quickly adapt to international rugby.

“We all have our own roles and responsibilities but the new girls have really stood up and been counted today. When the dust settles we will be happy with how it went. Conditions especially in the first-half were incredibly difficult and nobody looked out of their depth.

“The senior players definitely do take a leadership role but it will not take long before the new players are truly bedded in because they were phenomenal today.”

2015 World Rugby Women’s player of the year nominee Sophie Spence emphasised that ultimately the strong performance moving towards the 2016 Six Nations would be more important than the loss.

“We are trying to put things in place for the Six Nations, so let’s analyse and build for it by looking at the performance we put in rather than the result.

“From a coaching viewpoint this was a perfect chance to look at different combinations, hopefully the process we go through up until the Six Nations can change the result when we next play England.”

ENGLAND:

S McKenna; K Mason, C Large, C Clapp (R Laybourn 77); E Scott, LT Mason; R Clarke (V Cornborough 60), E Croker, J Lucas (H Kerr 79), T Taylor, A Scott, H Gallagher (I Noel-Smith 60), M Packer (H Millar-Mills 77), S Hunter (capt) Tries: I Noel-Smith (75, 8-3) Pens: L Catell (12, 3-0) Sin-bin: E Croker (49 min) Replacements not used: A Cokayne, L Riley, R Lund.

IRELAND:

N Briggs (capt), J Deacon, A Donnelly (N Stapleton 56), J Shiels, M Coyne, S Naoupu, L Muldoon (M Healy 56); R O’Reilly (F Reidy 61) C Moloney, A Egan, E Anthony (L Peat 64), C Cooney, S Spence, P Fitzpatrick, H O’Brien Pens: N Briggs (72, 3-3) Replacements not used: Z Grattage, F O’Brien, K Norris, C McLaughlin.

Referee:

Marie Lematte (France)

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