Ciara Griffin, of UL-Bohemian, celebrates scoring a vital try in Ireland's Womens Rugby World Cup win over Australia
REPLACEMENT Ciara Griffin, of UL-Bohemian, struck for a vital second half try as Tom Tierney’s Ireland side opened their Womens Rugby World Cup bid with a tense 19-17 victory over Australia in UCD on Wednesday night.
Limerick man Tierney will now set his sights on preparing his charges for Sunday’s second Pool C fixture against Japan also in UCD, 5.15pm, Live on RTE and eir Sport.
Ireland’s line-up against Australia included UL-Bohemian winger Eimear Considine, while her try-scoring clubmate Griffin replaced Highfield’s Heather O’Brien in the 58th minute.
UL-Bohs scrum-half, Limerick woman Nicole Cronin, was also a member of Ireland’s match day squad which defeated the Wallaroos.
A scrappy first half full of bruising hits ended 7-5 in Ireland's favour, Larissa Muldoon striking first for a 20th-minute converted score before Mahalia Murphy - one of three Sevens regulars in the Australian side - ran in a snappy effort near the half hour mark.
Australian skipper Shannon Parry's 56th-minute try went unconverted before the Irish bench, including prop Ciara O'Connor who solidified the scrum, had a huge impact.
Tigerish flanker Griffin drove in under a couple of defenders for a vital try - converted by Nora Stapleton - just a few minutes after her introduction.
Spence added try number three in the 70th minute, also crashing over from close range, to give Ireland some rare breathing space. Australia made them sweat right to the finish thanks to a Hilisha Samoa try, converted by Ashleigh Hewson, but the girls in green pocketed four very hard-earned points in Pool C.
IRELAND: Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster); Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians/Munster), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sene Naoupu (Harlequins), Alison Miller (Old Belvedere/Connacht); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union/Ulster); Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster), Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union/Leinster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary's/Leinster), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht) (capt), Heather O'Brien (Highfield/Munster). Replacements used: Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster) for Murphy (47 mins), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster) for Fitzpatrick, Ciara O'Connor (Galwegians/Connacht) for Egan (both 51), Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster) for O'Brien (58). Not used: Leah Lyons (Highfield/Munster), Ruth O'Reilly (Galwegians/Connacht), Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemians/Munster), Mairead Coyne (Galwegians/Connacht)