Number eight Ciara Griffin led from the front with two tries as Ireland opened their account in the Women’s Six Nations 2018 with a 21-8 win against Italy at Donnybrook in Dublin.
The Ireland captain’s scores after 67 and 76 minutes not only secured coach Adam Griggs his first win since taking on the job on a part-time basis, but also saw the Irish replace the Azzurre in seventh place in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings.
The victory was worth 0.79 of a point to the girls in green and boosted their overall tally to 73.82 points with Italy dropping down to eighth, on 73.13.
Winger Megan Williams had earlier scored a try on her home debut to help Ireland into a 7-3 half-time lead, Niamh Briggs adding the conversion despite kicking into a strong wind. Italy’s only points of the half came from a Michela Sillari penalty.
A combination of Irish errors and resolute Italian defending kept the scoreline the same until Griffin burrowed over from close range following strong play from Lindsay Peat in the build-up.
Briggs converted and then added the extras to Griffin’s second which came from a powerful scrum, the number eight showing good control at the base before picking up and plunging over the line.
ENGLAND KEEP WALES AT BAY
For the second year in a row, England went past the 50-point mark against Wales while also keeping their opponents scoreless in a one-sided affair at the Twickenham Stoop.
Poppy Cleal (pictured) and Ellie Kildunne both bagged a brace of tries apiece, scoring either side of half-time, as defending champions England maintained their perfect start to the Championship.
Abbey Dow and Leanne Riley also got on the scoresheet in the first half before Marlie Packer and Rachael Burford added further tries in the second.
Katy Mclean converted six of the eight tries scored as the Red Roses just fell just short of matching last season’s 63-0 win in Cardiff.
LE PESQ PROVIDES THE POLISH
England lead the Six Nations standings from France on points difference after Les Bleues maintained their perfect start with a 26-3 win over Scotland at the Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow.
Scoring a point had been beyond Scotland in their six previous matches against France, so seeing recalled scrum-half Sarah Law bisect the posts with an early penalty was a novel experience for many of the record 2,792 crowd in attendance. However, their joy was short-lived as Les Bleues scored 26 points without reply to keep the pressure on England at the top of the table.
Agathe Sochat was the first to cross for the visitors before winger Cyrielle Banet extended their lead with a searing run.
After the break, Caroline Boujard added another before elusive outside centre Jade Le Pesq, France’s two-try hero in last weekend’s win over Ireland, scored the all-important fourth try to secure the bonus point.