Ireland to build on Black Ferns win

Date published: August 6 2014

Ireland captain Fiona Coghlan insists her side are not about to stop now after beating four-time champions New Zealand at the WRWC.

Ireland captain Fiona Coghlan insists her side are not about to stop now after beating four-time champions New Zealand at the Women's World Cup.

The Irish became the first team since 1991 to beat the Black Ferns in the tournament, and with a semi-final spot now all but assured, Coghlan and company intend to go even further.

Niamh Briggs was the hero of the 17-14 win in Marcoussis, knocking over the winning penalty ten minutes from time, and Ireland can book a place in the last four with a win over last-placed Kazakhstan on Saturday.

“It's huge, New Zealand are a team we respect, we've watched and probably learnt a lot from over the years,” said Coghlan.

“They're the top of the world, that's where we said we wanted to be. We're not there yet, this is only step two of the process and we're on the right track.

“It was a bit frantic at times, but we took control of the game in the last 20 minutes. We knew they were going to come back strong, but we settled things down and really took control of the ball in the last four minutes. It was all about control.

“This was a huge game, we knew coming into this that we were playing against the world champions but the girls were confident, we knew we had the ability and it was just being consistent for the 80 minutes and we were.

“The heads never dropped. Even when they went ahead, we knew what we were going to do. All credit should go to the coaches, the analysis team and the game plan they gave us. It's absolutely wonderful to win against the world champions.”

Ireland could face hosts France in the semi-finals after they made it two bonus-point wins from two with a thumping 55-3 win over South Africa, leaving pool decider with Australia on Saturday.

And having been disappointed by her players' display in the opening victory over Wales, coach Nathalie Amiel admitted the performance had been much improved against South Africa.

“We did what was needed by scoring nine tries,” she said. “In the first game, despite the bonus point, we weren't that impressed with what we produced, but in this game they really deserved their win and their bonus point.

“Australia on Saturday will be much more complicated, but that's a good thing. We have 26 players, we wanted everyone to have a game, so choosing 15, and especially leaving four in the stands, will be tough.”

England coach Gary Street faces a similar problem after his side cruised to a second win over Spain to set up a winner-takes-all clash with Canada.

The Canadians have also won their opening two games, and Street is under no illusions as to the step-up that will be required to top the group and reach the semi-finals.

He said: “We had a plan going into these first two games – we wanted to give everyone a chance and we wanted to see all 26 players in action. Looking ahead to Canada, we have some fresh legs who will come into contention, but there will be some tough calls to make ahead of what promises to be a very difficult game.”