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Butchers stars as Wales power past Ireland

Wales Women overturned a half-time deficit against Ireland to open their TikTok Women’s Six Nations campaign with a stunning second half fightback to secure a 19-27 victory at Dublin’s RDS Arena.

Siwan Lillicrap captained the side, alongside Natalia John, Alisha Butchers, Keira Bevan, Elinor Snowsill, Jasmine Joyce and Kayleigh Powell, as Ioan Cunningham's side fought kicked off the tournament in style.

Super sub Donna Rose came on in the second half and scored two tries to bring Wales back into the match before Hannah Jones, who sparkled throughout, completed the remarkable comeback with a dazzling run down the touchline in the dying moments to secure Wales a welcome victory having lost their previous seven games in the championship.

Wales trailed 14-5 at half-time, with a Carys Phillips try their only reward from the opening half. Head coach Ioan Cunningham would have been happier just after the break when Jasmine Joyce scored to bring Wales within four points of Ireland.

But Ireland increased their lead to 19-10 when Stacey Flood pounced, and Wales looked in trouble but Cunningham’s astute use of the bench bore fruit as Rose touched down twice while fellow replacements Kelsey Jones and Sioned Harries figured prominently as the visitors came from behind to win with a bonus point for scoring four tries.

Wales began the game brightly and dominated possession but were unable to convert that dominance into points. Slowly Ireland worked their way into the game, and they opened the scoring in the 17th minute with a try down the right hand touchline.

Ireland worked winger Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe clear and she swept past two defenders before diving over in the corner despite a despairing tackle from Lisa Neumann. An excellent side-line conversion from Nicole Cronin put the home side 7-0 up.

Wales, urged on by captain Siwan Lillicrap and Jones, prodded and probed the Irish defence while full back Kayleigh Powell looked threatening every time she touched the ball but Wales couldn’t make the breakthrough.

Eventually Wales’ patience paid off and in the 27th minute it was the familiar sight of hooker Carys Phillips crashing over from close range after a well drilled line-out close to the Irish line.

Within in two minutes Ireland hit back with Linda Djougang side-stepping over after a great offload from second row Sam Monaghan put the rampaging prop clear. Cronin added the extras to put the home side 14-5 ahead at the break.

Wales were the first to strike in the second half. Powell kept the ball alive before Elinor Snowsill passed to Joyce who sliced her way over out wide to bring Wales within four points of Ireland.

Cunningham made a double substitution on the 52nd minute with Kelsey Jones and Sioned Harries replacing Phillips and Natalia John. It appeared a masterstroke when Jones burrowed over but the try was disallowed for blocking in the line-out in the lead-up.

Ireland made Wales pay for giving the ball away cheaply from a quickly taken line-out by Powell which the home side gratefully picked up. Ireland shot down the short side and inside centre Flood scooted over.

Replacement prop Rose, with the assistance of Harries, forced her way over in the 65th minute to ensure a grandstand finish.

Ireland suffered a major blow in the 71st minute when Considine was sent to the sin bin for not rolling away, Wales scented blood and went in for the kill.

Wales battered away at the Irish defence but the women in green held firm until Rose picked her moment and plunged the ball over the line to put Wales in front for the first time in the match. With Robyn Wilkins adding the extras, Wales led 19-22 with five minutes to hold out.

With Ireland trying desperately to hit back, Wilkins made a telling break and timed a pass perfectly to Jones who sped clear to claim a bonus point victory for Wales.


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