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Rugby - 17. March 2015.

Briggs denies Wales Women a Triple Crown

A fantastic all-round display from captain Niamh Briggs handed Ireland Women a well-earned 20-0 victory against Wales Women as they remain firmly in the hunt for the Women's Six Nations title.

Paula Fitzpatrick and Alison Miller scored tries either side of half-time and Briggs kicked ten points for the visitors,
who produced an incredible defensive performance to shut out Wales at St Helens.

With a great deal at stake for both sides the opening exchanges were full of handling errors as nerves seemed to get the better of a number of players.

Ireland were the more clinical, however, and after Wales were warned for conceding a series of penalties in their own 22 in quick succession they soon were punished by Fitzpatrick.

A patient multi-phase build up from Ireland had them five metres from the Wales line and it was second-row Fitzpatrick who picked the ball up from the ruck and touched the ball against the post.

Briggs had the simplest of kicks for the extras and Ireland were deservedly 7-0 ahead after 27 minutes. 

The Welsh response came from wing Elen Evans, who made a great break from her own half but when the support came a knock-on quashed any momentum they had regained.

Wales continued to pressurise Ireland and soon had a series of attacking line-outs in the corner but Ireland's defence stood firm to deny them any score.

No.8 Shona Powell Hughes picked the ball up off the back of a solid Welsh scrum, awarded for an Irish infringement at the line-out, and made a surge for the line.

But she was pushed back by Ireland, before some excellent work from Claire Molloy earned Ireland the penalty as the danger was cleared. 

Wales were back within five metres of the Ireland try-line though as time was up at the end of the first half, a good chase for Evans forcing Briggs to knock-on just in front of her own try-line.

However, when Evans was given the ball from the resulting scrum it was Briggs who forced her into giving away a penalty for holding on.

Incredibly Briggs couldn't find touch from her kick but she was spared when Wales were forced out into touch shortly afterwards, bringing an end to the first half.

You felt the first score after half-time would be crucial and it was Ireland's Briggs who settled things down on 48 minutes with a penalty to extend her side's lead out to 10-0.

Shortly afterwards they almost had another try when an attempted clearance kick from Wales' Evans was charged down by Hannah Tyrrell, but agonisingly for the wing the ball had just rolled dead before she could touch it down.

Another Briggs penalty followed on the hour but Wales were determined to get some points on the board and came close once again on 73 minutes after an excellent break from Evans.

Wales found themselves five metres out from Ireland's line once again but some incredible resolve from the likes of Sophie Spence and Marie Louse Reilly forced the penalty in favour of Ireland.

The visitors then rounded off a dominant display with a try in the 78th minute through Miller with Briggs bringing things to a close with another successful conversion, denying Wales a Triple Crown and keeping Ireland's hopes of the Six Nations title very much alive.
Read more at http://www.rbs6nations.com/en/women/28118.php#ZLSTOua1b4cVHcB3.99

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