Ireland held out to take a crucial Group C victory over Australia as the Women’s Rugby World Cup got underway in Dublin on Wednesday night.
On a day when scoring was high in many of the other pool matches, the Irish and Australians served up a cracking match to end day one of the tournament being staged in Dublin and Belfast during August.
With Japan and France to come for Ireland defeating the much fancied Australians was crucial as they look to reach the semi-finals for a second successive World Cup.
It was a tense encounter between the sides played in front of an enthusiastic crowd at the UCD Bowl.
Australia came flying out of the blocks and Ireland had to stay alert.
Then the Irish set piece came intoits own and the deadlock was broken after 19 minutes when scrumhalf Larissa Muldoon, following powerful work from the pack, darted in for a try.
Flyhalf Nora Stapleton converted for a 7-0 advantage.
On 27 minutes Ireland were caught out by a turn of pace in the Aussie backline with fullback Samantha Trehene getting a long pass away to winger Mahalia Murphy and she raced away for an unconverted try, leaving in 7-5 at the break.
The Walleroos dominated the early exchanges in the second half and they took the direct route to score a try and put themselves in front for the first time, captain Shannon Parry going over. Trehene sliced her conversion in front of the posts and the advantage stayed at three points.
The Irish were not be outdone. They stormed back and the pack against drove hard, making good yards, before replacement Ciara Griffin, did well to burrow over for a try under the posts, leaving Stapleton with a straight forward conversion to give them a four point lead with 25 minutes remaining.
Lifted by some voiciferous home support Ireland kept the foot on the Austrlian throat and having moved ball left replacement Sophie Spence looked to have squeezed in. the TMO confirmed the try. Stapleton was unable to convert from the touchline, but Ireland now had a nine points advantage with 11 minutes remaining.
A grandstand finished was guranteed when the Walleroos hit back three minutes later, prop Halisha Samoa going over and replacement Ashley Hewshen converts to leave two points in it.