Ireland Women start with win in Cardiff
Updated: Sunday, 03 Feb 2013 21:09
The Ireland Women won on Welsh soil for the first time since 2005 as Gillian Bourke's late try proved decisive in a 12-10 RBS 6 Nations cliffhanger in Port Talbot.
Hooker Gillian Bourke scored out wide following a free-flowing pass move in the 75th minute, edging Ireland into a two-point lead that they determinedly held onto.
It was a tenacious fight-back from Philip Doyle's side who suffered a sin-binning in each half with forwards Sophie Spence and Stacey-Lea Kennedy seeing yellow.
Second row Spence had done extremely well to ground the ball in the left corner for the game's opening try after 22 minutes.
Niamh Briggs, an ever influential figure at full-back, added a brilliant conversion from the touchline.
Fourteen-woman Ireland defended superbly until a chink was exposed by Welsh full-back Rosie Fletcher who ghosted in for the hosts' only try. The conversion from Elinor Snowsill levelled the sides at 7-7 for half-time.
The Welsh, fired up for revenge after a record 36-0 defeat in Ashbourne last year, went close on a couple of occasions to scoring second half tries.
A crucial moment came in the 65th minute when Alison Miller's outstretched right boot denied Caryl James a certain try in the right corner - it was the sort of committed play that has become a trademark of this Irish team.
But with Kennedy off the pitch, Wales continued to press and with 11 minutes remaining Laura Prosser slotted a penalty to move them ahead for the first time.
Back came Ireland though and a storming attack yielded the match-winning score for Bourke, who had notched three tries in her last two outings against Wales.
Briggs was unable to add the conversion, but it was not needed as the girls in green made a winning start to the Six Nations, joining Italy and defending champions England on two points after the first weekend.