A determined performance by Ireland’s women saw them claim an 8-6 win over Canada Ravens in a pulsating Test Match in front of a large crowd at Orrell St James.
Canada, who are currently ranked sixth and will be participating in the Women’s World Cup beginning next week, struggled to breakdown an Irish side that stuck to their task throughout and banished the memory of their recent defeat to Wales in Euro B North, with a display that will do wonders for their confidence moving forward towards the qualifiers for RLWC2025.
The first half saw Ireland spend large periods camped in the Canada half but some strong defence from the Ravens, coupled with a few handling errors, meant that the game remained scoreless until the final play of the half when Ireland prop forward Ali Coleman, on the last tackle, crashed over on the left from close range despite the attention of four defenders, to give her side a narrow 4-0 interval lead.
The second half started in the same manner with defences on top but fifteen minutes in a lovely ball from Ireland stand off Mairead Quinn found centre Gabby Harrison on debut and she managed to ground the ball out wide on the right to double the Irish advantage.
Just after the hour, Canada finally managed to breach the Ireland line when a short ball from substitute Natasha Naismith found centre debutant Maddy Aberg in space to score wide out on the left. Full back Dani Franada converted to narrow the gap to just two points but the Irish women’s grit saw them hold on for victory.
The player of the match was awarded to Ireland prop Ali Coleman, whilst winger Ferris Sanboe was the stand out player for the Canadians.
Ireland Women head coach John Whalley said: “That was a real show of character, with a desire to work hard for each other for the full eighty minutes. I am really pleased with how we responded to the defeat against Wales two weeks ago, and with five players on debut it is so satisfying to see them come in and give me a selection headache going forward. We would like to thank Canada for allowing us to be part of their World Cup preparations; they played their part in a fantastic spectacle and we wish them every success in the competition.”
Ravens head coach, Mike Castle, noted: “It’s been invaluable for our preparations and it was a great game. Ireland played sensationally, and well done to them. We’ll take a lot of positives and defensively both teams were strong, goal line defence was great, and there’s a lot to be happy about, we just need to work on our ball security and composure.”
CANADA 6 : Dani Franada, Lauren Mueller, Nina Bui, Maddy Aberg, Ferris Sanboe, Karina Gauto, Sab McDaid, Ada Jane Okonkwo, Alix Evans, Laura Mariu, Rachel Choboter, Sarah Maguire, Liz Steele. Subs: Natasha Naismith, Brittany Douglas, Jade Menin, Zoey Siciliano. Try: Aberg (61) Goal: Franad 1/1
IRELAND 8 : Fran Copley, Sinead O’Brien, Bettie Lambert, Gabby Harrison, Laoise McGonagle, Mairead Quinn, Alex McGuinness, Ali Coleman, Iona McCusker, Clodagh Dunne, Storm Cobain, Mollie Young, Pip Birchall. Subs: Faye O’Neill, Louise Burgess, Orlaith McAuliffe, Lisa Callan. Tries: Coleman (40), Harrison (55) Goals: Copley 0/1, McGuinness 0/1
Half time: 0-4 : Referee: Elliot Burrow (England)