Ireland 13-15 Wales
On a cool and crisp afternoon in Belfield, it was Ireland who were left cold as Wales snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a last-gasp try in a 15-13 November international victory at the UCD Bowl.
After successive home defeats at the hands of USA, England and France, not to mention the 24-5 loss to the same opposition during the Six Nations back in March, Ireland appeared to be heading for a morale-boosting victory after tries in either half from Linda Djougang and Enya Breen.
With the clock in the red and a 13-10 lead, Ireland had the feed for their own scrum to see out the game, but the visitors won that against the head and kicked to the corner, with replacement scrum-half Keira Bevan scampering over from close range in the fourth minute of added time.
Despite recent training camps in Scotland and France, the absence of competitive action for nearly eight months was noticeable on occasions when the home side failed to capitalise on some decent attacking positions with handling errors.
Head coach Adam Griggs handed a debut to second row Judy Bobbett and she was conspicuous at either side of the ruck in a first half where Ireland set the tempo.
Winger Eimear Considine looked lively both in the air and on the ground from the off and it was no surprise that the Munster full-back was key to the only score of the half in the 19th minute.
The Clare flyer skipped inside Wales flanker Bethan Lewis and darted straight for the line. Desperate Welsh defence saw Considine halted inches short of the line by two defenders, but the ball was recycled and prop Linda Djougang, aided by a strong latch by Bobbett, powered over the line.
Ellen Murphy's conversion attempt sailed to the right of the posts, but most of the play to that point was taking part in Welsh territory.
Any attack was snuffed out by a combination of resolute Irish defence, where captain Ciara Griffin made a number of turnovers, and handling errors from the Welsh.
Indeed the stop-start nature was illustrated by the fact that referee Rebecca Mahoney awarded 18 penalties in total over the course of the opening 40 minutes.
The Welsh rallied towards the end of the half, but couldn’t make any impression on the scoreboard and Ireland retired to the dressing room with a 5-0 lead.
After a bright initial start upon the resumption, it was Ireland who claimed the next score when Enya Breen extended the lead. Swift attacking play involving Nicole Cronin and Considine, who again showed a clean pair of heels, afforded the Ireland centre with a two-on-one.
Breen ignored Beibhinn Parsons on her shoulder to cut inside Wales full-back Kayleigh Powell.
At that point the majority of the supporters in the UCD Bowl were sensing victory, but four minutes later and Wales were off the mark through a well struck Robyn Watkins penalty.
Both sides rang the changes from the bench and with 12 minutes remaining, Wales were level.
Replacement Sioned Harries exploited generous space in the Irish drift defence to canter in, with Watkins making no mistake from the tee.
The Irish response was impressive, going through a number of phases before Murphy put behind her two failed conversions to slot home a penalty and hand Ireland a three-point lead.
A Welsh handing error after the 80 minutes elapsed seemed to put paid to a Welsh comeback, but they showed steely determination to win the scrum against the head.
They duly kicked to the corner and despite dogged defending on the line, replacement Keira Bevan picked the ball from the base of the ruck to dart over and seal a dramatic away win.
Ireland: Eimear Considine (Munster); Lauren Delany (IQ Rugby), Enya Breen (Munster), Sene Naoupu (Leinster), Beibhinn Parsons (Connacht); Ellen Murphy (IQ Rugby), Nicole Cronin (Munster); Laura Feely (Connacht), Cliodhna Moloney (IQ Rugby), Linda Djougang (Leinster), Nichola Fryday (Connacht), Judy Bobbett (Leinster), Ciara Griffin (Munster) (captain), Edel McMahon (Connacht), Anna Caplice (IQ Rugby).
Replacements: Victoria Dabanovich-O'Mahony (Leinster) for Moloney (52 mins), Katie O'Dwyer (Leinster), Anne-Marie O'Hora (Connacht) for Feely (52 mins) Niamh Ni Dhroma (Leinster) for Caplice (66 mins), Hannah O'Connor (Leinster) for Caplice (49 mins), Kathryn Dane (Ulster) for Cronin (52 mins), Larissa Muldoon (Leinster), Michelle Claffey (Leinster) for Breen (68 mins).
Wales: Kayleigh Powell (Ospreys); Paige Randall (Cardiff Blues), Alecs Donovan (Ospreys), Robyn Wilkins (Cardiff Blues), Courtney Keight (Ospreys); Elinor Snowsill (Ospreys), Ffion Lewis (Scarlets); Gwenllian Pyrs (RGC), Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Natalia John (Ospreys), Gwen Crabb (Ospreys), Alex Callender (Scarlets), Bethan Lewis (Scarlets), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys) (captain).
Replacements: Carys Phillips (Ospreys), Gwenllian Jenkins (Scarlets), Cerys Hale (Cardiff Blues), Sioned Harries (Scarlets), Robyn Lock (Ospreys), Keira Bevan (Ospreys), Megan Webb (Cardiff Blues), Rebekah O'Loughlin (Cardiff Blues).