Wales made a huge statement ahead of the 2020 Women’s Six Nations as a dramatic last-minute try for Keira Bevan delivered a 15-13 away win in Ireland.
Facing off at the UCD Bowl in Dublin, Ireland led 5-0 at half-time thanks to a Linda Djougang try, and took it to 10-0 in the second half through Enya Breen.
But Wales were preparing a second-half assault and built their tally through a Sioned Harries score and five points from the boot of Robyn Wilkins, leaving it to replacement No.9 Bevan to snipe in for the win.
Wales skipper Siwan Lillicrap commented: “It was a huge step up. Ireland have got a lot riding on these fixtures in terms of making it up the rankings and qualifying for the World Cup.
“We also beat them in the last game of the Six Nations so they had a point to prove and I think it was a step up in performance for us this week.
“The intensity was through the roof, the girls defended superbly and we weathered the storm, in the first 20 minutes especially, and I thought the defensive shift was outstanding today.
“Maybe things weren’t sticking at first and there was a couple of errors but we stuck with it and we came away with a win at the end, it was a full squad performance.”
Chris Horsman pleased with today’s performance 🙌🏽 pic.twitter.com/eK5RJEMy8D
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) November 10, 2019
Ireland had not played for almost eight months, a St. Patrick’s Day defeat to Wales in Cardiff bringing their 2019 Six Nations to a close. But they took the initiative when full-back Eimear Considine broke and Djougang dotted down next to the posts in the first half.
Wales struggled to break down the Irish defence and found their own lines broken again in the second half, as more good work from Considine resulted in Breen making a run to the line.
In response Wilkins notched a penalty and Wales got their first try on 68 minutes, as Harries gathered at the back of a lineout before dotting down.
Wilkins added the extras to bring things level, Ellen Murphy’s penalty edged Ireland ahead once again but there was still time for the dramatic heroics from Bevan.
“It’s not how we wanted the game to end,” said Considine after the match. “We were dominant in 90 per cent of that match it’s just a few calls at the end that went against us.
“We have to learn from that and build. It’s our one game that we had to prep before the Six Nations and we’ll be disappointed.
“We improved defensively, we created a lot of opportunities and I guess a lot of calls went against us and ultimately that all that matters, it doesn’t matter how well you play, it’s points on the board.”
Ireland: Eimear Considine; Lauren Delany, Enya Breen, Sene Naoupu, Beibhinn Parsons; Ellen Murphy, Nicole Cronin; Laura Feely, Cliodhna Moloney, Linda Djougang, Nichola Fryday, Judy Bobbett, Ciara Griffin, Edel McMahon, Anna Caplice
Replacements: Victoria Dabanovich-O’Mahony, Katie O’Dwyer, Anne-Marie O’Hora, Niamh Ni Dhroma, Hannah O’Connor, Kathryn Dane, Larissa Muldoon, Michelle Claffey
Wales: Kayleigh Powell*; Paige Randall*, Alecs Donovan, Robyn Wilkins, Courtney Keight*; Elinor Snowsill, Ffion Lewis; Gwenllian Pyrs, Kelsey Jones, Amy Evans, Natalia John, Gwen Crabb, Alex Callender, Bethan Lewis, Siwan Lillicrap
Replacements: Carys Phillips, Gwenllian Jenkins, Cerys Hale, Sioned Harries, Robyn Lock, Keira Bevan, Megan Webb, Rebekah O’Loughlin*