By Rosie Foley
Coming into this fixture against Ireland, Wales were sat fifth on the Six Nations table. Ireland had the potential to finish third if they came away with the win, but Wales did not let that happen. Wales’ defence was phenomenal and did not let Ireland get through. The statistics and score say it all. Wales made double the amount of tackles (296) compared to Ireland (141) and came away with the win, 24-5.
Ireland got the first points on the board with a try from Beibbhinn Parsons just 14 minutes in. However, Wales answered back straight away as wing Jess Kavanagh shot past the Irish defence to cross the line (18’).
It was clear throughout that the Welsh pack were the dominant ones as they were making more positive carries and winning the scrums. However, a silly error from Siwan Lillipcrap meant that she was sent to the bin for a high tackle. This gave Ireland the chance to go into half time in the lead, but they did not capitalize on their advantage. Welsh defence held strong yet again.
With Lillicrap back on just before half time, Wales had a line out on the Irish 22, the Welsh maul was too much for the visitors to handle which enabled captain Carys Phillips to go over the line with Lleucu George getting the conversion (37’). Leaving the score at halftime, 13-5 to Wales.
Coming out for the second half it was Ireland’s time to fight back. The Irish attack tried to penetrate the Welsh defence, but they were getting no-where. Hopes of a win for the girls in green were soon fading as the dominant Welsh pack allowed Bethan Lewis to crash over the whitewash off of a scrum inside the Irish 22 and George converting (69’). Welsh winger Jazz Joyce sealed the win as she sprinted down the pitch to finish the match with a bonus point try (77’).
There were many outstanding performances from the Welsh side. Jazz Joyce carried the ball 15 times for her team making 191 metres, more than any other player on the pitch and Alisha Butchers and Mel Cray were able to make 33 successful tackles during the match.
Wales’ defence won them this match. Ireland Scrum-half Kathryn Dane made 120 passes but they still struggled to get a threatening attack. Wales No.8 Sioned Harries, watched from the sidelines due to injury commented on how today they proved that their attack is as strong as their defence.
‘I think everyone’s been commending us on our defence throughout the campaign and it was nice to see that we are able to attack as well.’
Two back to back victories meant that Wales finished in fourth place above Ireland, only 5 points behind last years winners France. The 2019 Six Nations campaign has shown that Wales are improving and truly becoming a team that could be one to contend with in the future. This is the end of the international season for Wales but Harris believes that this winning streak should continue.
‘Winning becomes a habit so hopefully, it turns into one.’
There is hopes that they can follow in the men’s footsteps. Only time will tell.