An excellent first-half performance, ahead 24-0 at the break, saw Ireland win the historic opening game in Women’s Euro B North in Italy, at Rugby Club Parisan di Prato, Udine. Honours were shared in the scorching sun in the second period, the hosts much improved as they went down 30-6 in front of over 500 spectators.
The game was split into four quarters because of the 36 degree heat, Ireland in the shape of Alison Colman making a terrific start. The Dublin City Exiles loose forward claimed a spectacular 15 minute, genuine hat trick, crashing over for her first, breaking up the centre for the second, and powering across for a third in an unstoppable spell.
Bedford Tigers’ Storm Cobain and Ray Lawless also crossed late in the half. Roisin Crowe looked to have scored on the hour but could not get the ball down, substitute Charlie Willett with Ireland’s only try of the second half.
Head coach John Whalley noted: “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.”
Before the Test match, both sides observed a minute’s silence in honour of former Italian Rugby League vice president Tiziano Franchini, a massive supporter in setting up the women’s game in the country, the hosts rewarded with an Allesandra Menotti try between the posts as the final whistle sounded.
“It was not an easy match, it hurts to lose as I know what we have within us, but it is an encouraging start,” said Italy women’s head coach Alberto Suin. “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.”
Italy captain Virginia Pinarello added: “Congratulations to Ireland, but also to us who have restarted after this long period of forced break. We have to work hard, however this group will do that and the match in Wales next week will see a strong commitment from us.”
ITALY WOMEN 6
Rebecca Pantaleoni, Rwan 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)
Subs (all used) Marvin Severgnini, Giulia Iozzia, Elisa Orofino, Enrica Pandolfo
Try: Menotti (79)
IRELAND WOMEN 30
Francessca Copley, Roisin Crowe, Bethany Lambert, Stephanie Carroll, Rachel Lawless, Alex McGuinness, Ella Synott, Mairead Quinn, Erin Coll, Clodagh Dunne (C), Storm Cobain, Emma Curran, Alison Coleman
Subs (all used) Iona McCusker, Stacy Hanley, Charlie Willett, Orla McCallion
Tries: Coleman (2, 7, 16), Cobain (30), Lawless (38), Willett (64)
Goals: Copley 2, McGuinness
Player of the match: Italy – Rebecca Pantaleoni Ireland – Alison Coleman
Half time: 0-24
Referee: Tony Palacios (Spain)