Scotland Women will this morning be rueing the sin-binning of stand-off Tanya Griffith which was the turning point against Ireland Women yesterday at Hawthornden.
The Scots had given as good as they got from the Irish in the opening 57 minutes at Lasswade’s ground, and were just 8-3 down when Griffith was yellow-carded for deliberate offside that stopped a promising visiting attack in its tracks.
It was the right call by referee Simon Rees but, from the resultant penalty, Ireland went 11-3 up and, by the time Griffith returned, it was 18-3, and the wind had gone out of the Scots’ sails as Ireland went on to clinch their first Triple Crown.
After Ireland’s impressive 25-0 win over defending RBS Six Nations champions England a fortnight ago, many expected the result in this one to be a formality. But that was not the case and the hosts took the lead in the seventh minute when centre Lisa Ritchie slotted over a penalty.
It took Ireland until the 22nd minute to get back on level terms through full-back Niamh Briggs’ penalty. Two minutes later, the visitors scored a fine team try.
The move started in their own half with a number of players getting their hands on the ball. Sharp offloads stretched the Scots defence and the finishing touch came from winger Alison Miller to make it 8-3.
For the rest of the half, both teams had chances, while the Scots will rue the fact that they didn’t get over the line in the dying minutes, when they had a large amount of pressure.
The second half started as the first had ended and defences were on top. After the incident involving Griffith, who had been having a good match, Briggs converted the resultant penalty and Ireland used the advantage to then score a converted try through Miller, again with the winger benefitting from a great run down the left by Briggs.
That broke Scotland’s resistance and, in the 75th minute, back-row Siobhan Fleming scored a converted try and, fittingly, player of the match Briggs rounded things off with a try.
Scorers: Scotland: Pen: Ritchie. Ireland: Tries: Miller 2, Fleming, Briggs. Cons: Briggs 2. Pens: Briggs 2.
Scotland: S Johnston; A Sergeant, S Dixon, L Ritchie, M Gaffney; T Griffith, L Dalgliesh; H Lockhart, S Quick, T Balmer, L Wheeler, B Parker, J Konkel, S Brown, T Forsberg. Subs used: B Dickens, S McKerlie-Hex, N McLeod, B Millar-Mills, K Shields, S Law, L Neary.
Ireland: N Briggs, A Baxter, L Cantwell, J Murphy, A Miller; N Stapleton, L Muldoon; F Coghlan, G Bourke, A Egan, S Spence, ML Reilly, S Fleming, J Neville, C Molloy. Subs used: SL Kennedy, F Hayes, L Day, L Dargan, L Guest, A Davis, G Davitt, N Kavanagh.
Referee: S Rees (WRU).