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Preview: Wales women v Ireland women

Preview: Wales women v Ireland women

As the 2019 Women’s Six Nations comes to a head this weekend, Wales and Ireland will battle it out in a bid to finish with a flourish.

Ireland currently sit fourth in the table, and could finish third if results go their way this weekend, while Wales will look to leapfrog their opponents with a win.

Experiencing contrasting fortunes, Wales showed grit to clinch a dramatic 17-15 victory over Scotland in Round Four while Ireland were overpowered 47-17 by France in Dublin.

A respectable finish is within reach for both sides but who will take the initiative in the Championship’s final chapter?

What they said

Wales head coach Rowland Phillips: “We want to capitalise on the confidence we’ve gained from the win over Scotland.

“We’ve shown a huge amount of character throughout this Championship – to hold Italy out at the end of that game and to come back from behind to win in Scotland showed remarkable attitude – and skill for such a young side.

“Despite that, I don’t feel we have shown how good a side we are and we’d like to do that on Sunday.

“There’s a big game in us and hopefully we can showcase that.”

Ireland head coach Adam Griggs said: “Everyone is disappointed with the result against France.

“We want to make sure we take control of our performance this weekend and finish on a positive note moving forward.

“While we feel our results don’t reflect the team’s progress and performances over the past few weeks, we have been honest with ourselves and know we have to get better at playing at this level.

“The ladies have committed 100 percent to the last six months and have made a lot of positive strides forward.

“We now need to combine some of those exciting moments we’ve had with our continuous work-ons to get that complete performance.”

Key battle – Siwan Lillicrap v Claire Molloy

In No.8 Siwan Lillicrap, Wales have one of the driving forces of the 2019 Women’s Six Nations so far.

The 31-year-old has completed more successful carries (66) than anyone else across four rounds, nine more than second-placed Giada Franco of Italy.

While they are not direct opponents on in Cardiff, her battle with openside flanker Claire Molloy, who ranks fifth in the 2019 carries list and is another experienced campaigner will be decisive. The player who is able to give their team the most front foot ball should have a big impact in the final result.

Key stats

  • Ireland have won every Women’s Six Nations match against Wales since a 15-14 defeat in the 2011 Championship
  • Wales’ Amy Evans leads the 2019 Women’s Six Nations with four breakdown steals
  • Ireland’s Nicole Fowley leads the 2019 Women’s Six Nations with 34 kicks, with only England’s Katy Daley-McLean (990m) having kicked for more metres than Fowley (759)

The teams

Wales: 15. Lauren Smyth, 14. Jasmine Joyce, 13. Hannah Jones, 12. Lleucu George, 11. Jess Kavanagh, 10. Elinor Snowsill, 9. Keira Bevan, 1. Caryl Thomas, 2. Carys Phillips (c), 3. Amy Evans, 4. Gwen Crabb, 5. Mel Clay, 6. Alisha Butchers, 7. Bethan Lewis, 8. Siwan Lillicrap

Replacements: 16. Kelsey Jones, 17. Cara Hope, 18. Cerys Hale, 19. Alex Callender, 20. Manon Johnes, 21. Ffion Lewis, 22. Robyn Wilkins, 23. Lisa Neumann

Ireland: 15. Lauren Delany, 14. Eimear Considine, 13. Enya Breen, 12. Sene Naoupu, 11. Beibhinn Parsons, 10. Nicole Fowley, 9. Kathryn Dane, 1. Lindsay Peat, 2. Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, 3. Fiona Reidy, 4. Aoife McDermott, 5. Nichola Fryday, 6. Ciara Griffin (c), 7. Claire Molloy, 8. Claire McLaughlin

Replacements: 16. Emma Hooban, 17. Linda Djougang, 18. Laura Feely, 19. Edel McMahon, 20. Anna Caplice, 21. Nicole Cronin, 22. Ellen Murphy, 23. Laura Sheehan