Tom Tierney cautious on Grand Slam hopes

Wales 7 Ireland 12: Ireland Women’s head coach Tom Tierney is wary of the challenge his team face in Friday’s Six Nations Grand Slam decider with England.

Tom Tierney cautious on Grand Slam hopes

Both sides are unbeaten in the tournament, with Ireland’s latest success a gritty 12-7 victory over Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

It means whoever wins at Donnybrook on St Patrick’s Day will claim the title, but Tierney accepts his side will go in as underdogs.

Tierney explained: “England are a fully professional side, so it will be a challenge for us. We will plan accordingly and hopefully, we can be competitive and take it to them. It would be huge result for us and would be only our second Grand Slam and third Six Nations championship, but we are under no illusions. This will be our hardest game, but we will give a good account of ourselves.”

Ireland did well to edge a gritty Wales side motivated by grief following the tragic death of former player Elli Norkett who was killed in a car crash last month.

Lindsay Peat’s try and a conversion from impressive player of the match Nora Stapleton put Ireland 7-0 up at the break. Peat’s yellow card for slowing down Welsh ball allowed the home side to level the scores as Robyn Wilkins added to Shona Powell-Hughes’ effort.

But Wales then had a sin binning of their own – Amy Evans the player cautioned for a high tackle on Kim Flood. It allowed Ireland to strike just after the hour mark, as sevens winger Hannah Tyrrell crossed in the corner. Stapleton missed the conversion, but all eyes are now on England.

Tyrrell said: “Who doesn’t love a game against England? It will be a Grand Slam winner-takes-all game. We will give it our all and hopefully come out on the right side of things. We are four from four and we haven’t played our best rugby yet. Hopefully, we can produce our best next week and get the win over the English.”

Ireland certainly have the talent to beat England, with backs Tyrrell, Alison Miller and Sene Naoupu in impressive form against Wales. The forward battle is likely to decide next week’s game, with Tierney keen for his team to improve their breakdown work.

“I think we need to be more clinical there against England,” he said. “It is on St Patrick’s Day in Dublin and we are going for a Grand Slam. All the ingredients are there for a big occasion.” Stapleton added: “We’ll have a big crowd at Donnybrook, but it will be a tough game. England are skilful, we are used to playing against them, but we will have to up our game that little bit more.”

Scorers for Wales:

Try – Powell-Hughes; Conversion – Wilkins

Scorers for Ireland:

Tries – Peat, Tyrrell; Conversion – Stapleton.

WALES:

Hywel; E Evans (Rowland, 63), Lake, De Filippo (Snowshill, 56), Taviner; Wilkins, Bevan (Parker, 72); Thomas, Phillips (capt) (L Harries, 68), A Evans (Pyrs, 72), Rowe (Lillicrap, 53), Clay, S Harries (Hale, 55-63), Taylor, Powell-Hughes (Butchers, 63)

IRELAND:

Flood; Tyrrell, Murphy (Caughey, 72), Naoupu, Miller; Stapleton, Healy (Muldoon, 41); Peat, Lyons, Egan (O’Reilly, 68), Spence, Reilly (Cooney, 72), Griffin, Molloy, Fitzpatrick (capt) (van Staden, 42-50)

Replacements not used:

O’Connor, Fryday, Coyne.

Referee:

Claire Hodnett (RFU)

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