/ Six Nations 2016

Ireland women put Scotland to the sword

Updated: Sunday, 20 Mar 2016 15:23 | Comments

Alison Miller scores her third try of the game
Alison Miller scores her third try of the game

Ireland 45-12 Scotland

The Ireland Women produced their most complete performance of the Six Nations to run out 45-12 winners over Scotland at sunny Donnybrook.

Tries from Alison Miller and captain Niamh Briggs sandwiched first international scores for Liz Burke and Ciara Griffin as they led 25-7 at half-time.

Miller had a hat-trick and Briggs bagged her brace by the hour mark and while replacement Sophie Spence added Ireland's eighth try, Rhona Lloyd had a late consolation effort for the Scots.

This final round fixture, which was attended by President Michael D Higgins, saw Ireland and Scotland meet for the first time since last year's 73-3 title-clinching win for the girls in green in Cumbernauld.

France were crowned Women's Six Nations champions against England in Vannes on Friday night, so a third place finish was the prize on offer for Tom Tierney's side this afternoon.

They hit the front within four minutes, Paula Fitzpatrick going close from a powerful lineout maul before Nora Stapleton's well-timed inside pass saw winger Miller dart over to the left of the posts.

Briggs converted and her UL Bohemians club-mate Burke was next over the whitewash, finishing off a free-flowing back-line move in the eighth minute for a 12-0 scoreline.

Sene Naoupu was central to that score and as the Irish backs continued to puncture holes in the overworked Scottish defence, excellent hands from Larissa Muldoon and Briggs played in flanker Griffin out wide on the right.

Quick ruck ball and slick handling kept Ireland very much on the front foot, with the Scots struggling to cope with the hard running of Naoupu, the excellent Paula Fitzpatrick and player-of-the-match Claire Molloy.

A big tackle by Molloy on Jade Konkel forced a five-metre scrum for the hosts and with the Scots infringing at the breakdown, Briggs clipped over a close range penalty for 20-0.

Lovely footwork from Molloy and Griffin got Ireland straight back into scoring range and from a lost Scottish lineout in their 22, out-half Stapleton's pinpoint cross-field kick teed up Briggs' touchdown on the half hour mark.

Scotland hit back right from the restart, scrum half Jenny Maxwell lifting her side with a superb solo try as she sniped clear from a ruck and evaded the clutches of both Muldoon and Burke. Hooker Lana Skeldon added a very well-struck conversion.

Indeed, Shade Munro's charges were much more competitive approaching the interval, and the home support breathed a sigh of relief when Lisa Thomson was brought to ground after intercepting Briggs' attempted offload.

Ireland wasted little time in registering their fifth try, with the second half just 67 seconds' old when Miller finished smartly to complete her brace. Again, livewire flanker Molloy was to the fore in the build-up.

Briggs then used a strong hand-off to make it over near the right corner flag, with the forwards providing a solid scrum platform, before Scottish number 8 Konkel was tackled just short at the other end.

But it was very much advantage Ireland entering the final quarter, with Scotland losing their discipline. They had two players sin-binned in quick succession - replacement prop Tracy Balmer for repeated infringements close to the try-line, and flanker Jemma Forsyth for an off-the-ball incident.

In between those yellow cards, improved execution from Ireland after a scrappy spell saw the ever-threatening Naoupu, who finished the game at out-half, feed Miller for her hat-trick score out wide.

The home side continued to create scoring opportunities, replacement Kim Flood charging up the left wing and she might have backed herself to score rather than link up inside with Aine Donnelly. The move broke down soon after, but Spence powered over off the back of a scrum with six minutes left.

Scotland, who have certainly improved under Munro this season, made sure to have the final say. Maxwell took a quick tap to launch a spirited last-minute assault on the Irish line, and some crisp passing put teenager Lloyd over on her left wing.

The 33-point triumph was enough to seal third place for Ireland, who have now finished in the top half of the Women's Six Nations table for the last eight years of the tournament.

Ireland: Niamh Briggs (capt); Liz Burke, Claire McLaughlin, Sene Naoupu, Alison Miller; Nora Stapleton, Larissa Muldoon; Ruth O'Reilly, Zoe Grattage, Ailis Egan, Elaine Anthony, Ciara Cooney, Ciara Griffin, Claire Molloy, Paula Fitzpatrick

Replacements used: Mary Healy for Muldoon, Cliodhna Moloney for Grattage (both 49 mins), Sophie Spence for Fitzpatrick (55), Orla Fitzsimons for Anthony, Kim Flood for Stapleton (both 60), Fiona Hayes for O'Reilly, Fiona Reidy for Egan, Aine Donnelly for Miller (all 67).

Scotland: Chloe Rollie; Megan Gaffney, Lisa Thomson, Lisa Martin (capt), Rhona Lloyd; Sarah Law, Jenny Maxwell; Heather Lockhart, Lana Skeldon, Lindsey Smith, Emma Wassell, Deborah McCormack, Jemma Forsyth, Karen Dunbar, Jade Konkel 

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