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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Oisin Doherty

Japan 22-57 Ireland: Ireland fight back from shocker start to record historic win in Japan

Ireland fought back from a horror start to run in nine tries and beat Japan by 35 points in the first test of a two test series against Japan in Shizuoka.

The home side flew out of the blocks scoring two tries and kicking a penalty in the first 15 minutes to put Irish backs up against the wall right from the off.

Greg McWilliams side responded in impressive fashion, holding Japan to just a solitary try over the next 65 minutes, while scoring a sackful of their own.

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It's been a tumultuous year for women's rugby on this island to say the least. After a long period of mismanagement and neglect, the women's team finally seem to be heading in the right direction.

Gillian McDarby now holds the position Anthony Eddy once did and is in charge of the women's game in the country. Eddy resigned from his role earlier this year just before a review into Ireland's failure to qualify was due to be published.

Many believed that Eddy made the players scapegoats for the qualification debacle, defending the amount of support the IRFU had given the women's game. Eddy's comments angered players both past and present and McDarby took up the role once the Australian had resigned.

The six Nations earlier this year was the signalling of a new era, with Ireland finishing strong after a very tough start to the campaign. Perhaps it was fitting that today's match had a chaotic start after such a period of chaos off the field.

Ireland made a dreadful start as the Cherry Blossoms flourished, scoring two tries in less than five minutes. Thankfully, Irish fans weren't subjected to this early mauling as TV stream issues meant the first 15 minutes went untelevised.

Supporters would have certainly been horrified to see Ireland trailing by 15 after less than a quarter of an hour. The away side however must have known that the cameras were on them, because from that point on, they utterly dominated Japan.

It took Ireland 15 minutes before they even got a sniff of the Japanese try-line. And when they got the put-in to a lineout inside Japan's '22, they took advantage with Neve Jones getting over the line on the back of a rolling maul. Teenager Dannah O'Brien converted, scoring her first points in international test rugby.

Ireland were well and truly back in the game just ten minutes later when Aoife Doyle touched down in the corner after a flowing move that began with a scrum in the middle of the pitch. Japan responded, pinning Ireland back into their own '22, but Aoife Dalton had the final say of the half touching down on her debut. And with O'Brien's conversion, Ireland moved into a 19-15 lead at the break.

Ireland started the second half as they finished the first with Jones again getting over after a powerful Irish maul. A little over 10 minutes later, Jones was securing her hat-trick after another try stemming from Ireland's dominant set-piece.

Méabh Deely slalomed through the Japanese defence in the 56th minute to score a wonderful debut try and stretch Ireland's lead ever further. Makoto Lavemai gave the home side some hope with a try 15 minutes from time to make it a three score game.

But Ireland put on the afterburners and tries from Chloe Pearse, Molly Scuffil-McCabe and Emma Hooban extended Ireland's lead, with the game ending in a 57-22 victory for the Irish.

It was a super day at the office for Ireland, as they made history by coming back from 15 points down to win. This is the biggest comeback in womens national team history, with the previous record being against today's opponents at the World Cup in 2017.

A stunning victory for Ireland, but one that is tinged with a bit of regret. Japan had been in good form heading into this one as their World Cup preparations kick into high gear.

Ireland however, will play no role in the tournament despite being ranked six places higher in the world rankings than The Cherry Blossoms.

All in all though, today was a brilliant day for Ireland, with an historic win to go with a number of promising youngsters excelling on their debut. The work isn't done yet however, with a second test in Tokyo just a week away.


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