Griggs eyes Irish improvement despite thumping Women's Six Nations win

·4-min read
Ireland kicked off their 2021 Women's Six Nations campaign with a 45-0 victory over so-far winless Wales © Action Images via Reuters
Ireland kicked off their 2021 Women's Six Nations campaign with a 45-0 victory over so-far winless Wales © Action Images via Reuters

There were a number of pros and cons for Adam Griggs to assess after a Jekyll and Hyde-like performance from Ireland saw them beat Wales 45-0 in their 2021 Women’s Six Nations opener.

The visitors came flying out of the blocks in Cardiff and had the bonus point wrapped up inside 20 minutes thanks to braces from Eimear Considine and Beibhinn Parsons, before Sene Naoupu went over to make it 31-0 at the break.

But Ireland failed to get back into gear after the restart and had to wait until eight minutes from time to get their next score through Dorothy Wall, before Hannah Tyrrell went over after the buzzer to round off the scoring.

And the contrasting performances either side of the interval gave Griggs plenty of food for thought at Cardiff Arms Park, with a showdown for top spot in Pool B against France in store next weekend.

“It was a game of two halves, in that first half you probably saw some of the frustration of not playing for so long come out and we were really clinical in some of those parts,” Griggs said.

"We spoke before the game about putting in a performance that reflected the hard work we have done so far, so I was really pleased with that.

“But you can fall into a trap when you get early tries and get so far ahead that you can overplay at times, and I think we were a bit guilty of that, and some of our core skills that looked so sharp in the first half let us down.”

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The wait for a Championship victory goes on for Wales, who failed to register a win in the 2020 Women’s Six Nations and have now lost both of their pool matches in this year’s competition.

And they were punished for a slow start in Saturday’s affair, as Considine crossed within the opening two minutes, before Parsons’ quick-fire double put the game to bed with less than 15 minutes on the clock.

But the hosts came out fighting after the break and repelled the waves of Irish attacks until the dying stages, when Wall and Tyrrell barraged over as they made the most of tiring Welsh legs.

With a final match against either Scotland or Italy to come in a fortnight’s time, it’s back to the drawing board for new Wales head coach Warren Abrahams.

The South Africa-born coach was appointed in November 2020, and after two defeats in his first two competitive matches in charge, he couldn’t hide his disappointment after the final whistle.

“At this level conceding 98 points in two weekends and not scoring any tries is pretty painful and we’re all disappointed,” Abrahams said.

“It’s not a great start, and there are some incredible lessons in there, but hopefully it will make us better as a team going forward.

“We’re all pretty disappointed in ourselves - we weren’t good enough today and we started incredibly slow.

“Credit to Ireland they took their opportunities early on, but we’re all very disappointed in the changing room and we all need to review the game critically.

“As a group we’ve all got to step it up and we’ve got to turn it around pretty rapidly.

“I believe in this group, I see the potential we have in this squad and we just need to keep believing. It’ll take time but these tough moments will keep us together as a group.”

After less than six months in the hotseat, Abrahams has made it clear he will be doing all he can to bring his side success, with changes expected within the Wales setup in the coming months as he tries to find the winning formula.

He continued: "We've got to figure out if it needs a different blend, it's my responsibility as head coach to look at where we got it wrong and to turn it around as soon as possible.

"If that means we need to make some changes then we need to make some changes, because there's definitely some young players there, and these are going to be incredible lessons for them.

"You've got to look at the bigger picture and where we ultimately want to take this programme."