What ifs, buts, and maybes for Ireland

Lindsay Peat hopes France can go on to be crowned Women’s Rugby World Cup champions after their first- half blitz demolished Ireland on Thursday night.

Ireland had to win to book a place in the semi-finals, and spoke confidently in advance about knowing all that was to come from the side they

defeated in March’s Six Nations.semi-finals, and spoke confidently in advance about knowing all that was to come from the side they defeated in March’s Six Nations.

But Les Bleus stormed out of the blocks and pinned their hosts into their half with such ferocity, Tom Tierney might have wished his team could submit.

Three tries arrived in the opening 21 minutes, and
despite a second half of trademark grit and determination, Ireland had no way back.

For three games in a row, Ireland failed to show their best — or at least what they like to believe they’re capable of — and now it’s off to Belfast next week with only fifth place to aim for.

“I really wish France the best, I hope they go on and do it,” Peat, the Ireland prop said.

“I’d love to have seen the game from the view of an outsider looking in, but they were very hard to live with in the first half.

“I think in the first half we saw an outstanding France team, who offloaded well, their short line running really opened us up.

“We’re very disappointed in the first half, obviously, we could have wrap tackled and not let them offload, or keep our spacing, but hindsight is a great thing.”

Hindsight isn’t required to admit France were always hot favourites to win this game, and that Ireland never looked capable of stopping them. The host nation came into the tournament speaking of lifting the trophy on home soil, but after two lukewarm performances against Australia and Japan, they again came up short on Thursday night — despite another second-half surge.

“There were three good
second-half performances, but few, if any, seriously competitive teams will be beaten by a team that performs for only half the game.

“We’re disappointed we couldn’t get that level from the first minute or for the full 80 minutes,” Peat admitted.

“We knew what we could offer, but the speed of the game, the speed of the French outfit, especially in that first half was too much.

“But you have to die fighting and if we weren’t in a game in the first half, we had to get in their faces and let them know they were in one.

“We imposed ourselves in the second half, our lines were better and we held possession.

“We had no possession in the first half and you can’t win a game like that. I’m very proud of our performance in the second half, and if we’d had an early try...who knows?

“It really was a tale of two halves, but that France
defence really was superb.”

I

reland’s fitness once more stood up to the test, as they finished the strongest, with Clionadh Moloney scoring a consolation try two minutes after 80 minutes appeared on the scoreboard.

But the French, who Ireland defeated earlier this year in the Six Nations, had clearly improved their own conditioning, and dealt with a ferocious onslaught from the home team, remaining supremely disciplined and denying
Ireland any early confidence- boosting scores.

Simply put — could Ireland have done anything different to stop this French team?

“It’s a very different game when you’re offloading the ball like they were, when you’re in collisions it’s a very different fitness that’s required, so it suited them to keep the ball in hand,” said Peat.

“If we’d gotten some heavy tackles in on them and worn them down, it would have been a different game. But we couldn’t get to grips with them.

“In Donnybrook in the Six Nations we played our game, it was a wet ball, we played for territory and our setpiece was excellent that day.

“I thought our setpiece was good on Thursday but they came up with something different [no contest at lineout], they’d studied our setpiece.

“I thought their offloading game was excellent, and they really opened us up in the first half.”

No excuses all round, and now it’s on to Belfast with a date against Australia on Tuesday (2pm, RTE Two, live on eirSport), where no silverware is on offer. Will it be tough to pick the team up to go again?

“We’ll be motivated, 100%,” Peat said.

“We’re very hurt and we wanted to be fighting for the World Cup trophy. But now we’ll fight for fifth.”

More on this topic

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Ireland will face whitewashed Wales in Women’s Rugby World Cup play-offIreland will face whitewashed Wales in Women’s Rugby World Cup play-off

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