Women take win against Italy

John Whalley’s Rugby League Ireland Women put on a fine display in Northern Italy as they opened their European Championship B account with a strong win over Italy, making it two wins from two on the International stage.

The Irish side ran in 24-points in the opening half, including an Ali Coleman hat-trick, though a more competitive closing forty saw both sides get a converted try apiece at Rugby Club Pasian Di Prato.


The girls in green took a fantastic opening set to leave Italy starting on their own goal line, before they made an unforced error to hand the ball back to Ireland. The visitors took the opportunity well as Ali Coleman – on debut – crashed over after just two minutes after a great dart down the centre, the effort was converted by Fran Copley for 6-0.

Coleman was in again in the 7th minute as Ireland got a scrum to work them close to the Italian goal line, allowing Alex McGuinness to drop the ball inside for Coleman’s second of the game and make it 10-0. However, two wasn’t enough and Ali Coleman made it a 15-minute hat-trick as she added a third, this time Alex McGuinness took kicking duties to put Ireland out to a 16-0 lead in as many minutes.

Italy had their first real chance late in the first half as they used good hands to try and shift it left, but big defence saw Roisin Crowe and Bettie Lambert dump their opposite number into touch to get the ball back.

Storm Cobain extended the first half lead further on the half hour mark, as Ireland had swift hands to see Coleman, Dunne and McCallion involved before Alex McGuinness turned provider again to send Cobain through on a diagonal run and crash over. The conversion attempt rattled off the uprights but the visitors held a strong 20-0 lead.

The final say of the opening forty came through Ireland and Ray Lawless, who received the pass out on the left wing from McGuinness to race away and get the ball down in the corner of the pitch, the extras were short but Ireland went into the sheds with a great 24-0 lead at the interval.

The second half was a lot more tough for the Irish as the Italian outfit backed up well in defence under the heat of Udine. Iona McCusker came on at hooker and was almost over the line but she was stopped just short to get the turnover.

With every credit to the hosts, a sustained period came where neither side could break each other down with strong defence from both camps. Just short of the water break on the hour mark, Roisin Crowe looked to have finished off a sublime move on the left edge, but the referee adjudged that she had not grounded the ball and it remained 24-0.

Ireland did get their reward for persistence though as Charlie Willett, another debutant, crashed over in the 66th minute of the game, converted by Copley to put the greens of Ireland out to 30-0.

Despite the scoreline, Italy never gave up the fight and it showed as right on the hooter the hosts got over for a consolation try. A penalty for an incorrect play the ball allowed them close to the Ireland goal line and a dart from dummy half saw Alessandra Menotti get the ball down under the sticks, converted by Pantaleoni to confirm a 30-6 win for Ireland.


Italy: Rebecca Pantaleoni, Ryan Hassnien, Giulia Colangeli, Giada Arzenton, Camilla Giacomazzo, Alessandra Menotti, Cecilia Piva, Marika Ascione, Martina Dall’Antonia, Rosa Bettolati, Siria Raisa, Altea Forto, Virginia Pinarello (C)

Interchanges: Marvin Severgnini, Giulia Iozzia, Elisa Orofino, Enrica Pandolfo

Tries: Menotti (80′)

Goals: Pantaleoni 1/1

Ireland: Fran Copley, Roisin Crowe, Bettie Lambert, Stephanie Carroll, Ray Lawless, Alex McGuinness, Ella Synott, Mairead Quinn, Erin Coll, Clodagh Dunne (C), Storm Cobain, Emma Curran, Ali Coleman

Interchanges: Iona McCusker, Stacy Hanley, Charlie Willett, Orla McCallion

Tries: Coleman (2′, 7′, 15′), Cobain (30′), Lawless (38′), Willett (66′)

Goals: Copley 2/3, McGuinness 1/3

Referee: Tony Palacios

Player of the match: Italy – Rebecca Pantaleoni, Ireland – Ali Coleman.

Speaking after the match, Head Coach John Whalley said: “It was a really good performance from the girls. The first half was one way traffic and everything came off but the heat played a big factor in the second. Full credit to Italy, they never gave up and had a real fighting spirit to the end. We’ll pick up on our performance and be ready for Wales in October, a game we’re really looking forward to.”

In addition, Italy Head Coach Alberto Suin said: “It was not an easy match, it hurts to lose as I know what we have within us, but it is an encouraging start. The girls have given everything but there is no time to feel sorry for themselves, this is a strong group and now we look forward to playing Wales.”

Take a look at highlights from the game here: https://youtu.be/gQ2K9MyZWFg

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