Beibhinn Parsons leaves SEVEN Italian players for dust as Ireland keep World Cup dreams alive
ITALY 7-15 IRELAND
Another grind, another imperfect performance and another Beibhinn Parsons masterclass that keeps Ireland in the hunt for a World Cup spot.
Ireland went into the 2021 RWC Qualifiers, in Italy, as favourites to join the other top sides at next year's tournament in New Zealand. By losing 8-7 to Spain, on Monday, they had dug themselves a deep, dark hole.
Today in Parma, they begun to climb their way out.
Tasked with downing an in-form Italian side, Adam Griggs' side went to the well and came out with a hard-fought win that also denied their hosts a losing bonus point. When the qualifiers all shake out, late this week, that could yet prove crucial.
The opening 30 minutes saw Ireland dominate territory and possession but, as it proved against Spain, creating clear scoring chances proved tough. Eventually, Irish pressure told as they mauled towards the Italian line only for Kathryn Dane to switch play back to the blindside. Stacey Flood, her half-back partner, found Beibhinn Parsons and the Connacht star did the rest.
Massive maul after a great throw to the back, mauling infield to split the Italian defence and Stacey Flood puts Beibhinn Parsons away in the corner on the switchback#ITAvIRE pic.twitter.com/dmaFnPMkpJ
— EK Rugby Analysis (@ek_rugby) September 19, 2021
Ireland led 5-0 at the break but Italy struck back in the second half, not long after Eimear Considine was yellow-carded for a high tackle. Beatrice Rigoni utilised her pace to make a stretched Ireland pay and when her try was converted, Italy led 7-5.
Rigoni was sin-binned soon after, though, for what the match officials decided was a deliberate knock-on. Ireland knew they needed to make the next 10 minutes count. Step up Parsons.
The Ireland winger fielded a clearing kick, inside her 22, and set off. Parsons broke five tackles and beat seven defenders in the space of one mazy carry that had the Italians in all sorts of trouble. It was a joy to behold:
Beibhinn Parsons 🤯 🤯
If I didn't see it, I wouldn't have believed it! 💨 pic.twitter.com/jiE7Bsqp6t
— Pat McCarry (@patmccarry) September 19, 2021
With the Italians scrambling to get back, Ireland put the hammer down and switched play from left to right.
Dane passed to Flood, who found Eve Higgins in support. The centre's fling to Considine, who was back on the pitch, made it a two-on-one. Considine timed her pass well and Amee Leigh Murphy-Crowe was away for the score.
Flood, who had kicked Ireland 8-7 ahead with an earlier penalty, added the conversion that would ultimately ensure Italy left with 0 points from the game. Scotland are up next for a revitalised Ireland.
They will need to up their performance levels again, next time out, but they have put themselves back in the qualification picture.
Our Player of the Match: Beibhinn Parsons (Ireland)