Tom Tierney – “We’ve got a lot of work to do if we’re to be competitive against the French”

Ireland Women’s head coach Tom Tierney admitted his side were far from their best against Japan at the UCD Bowl in their second pool match of their World Cup campaign, and will need to perform at a higher level to beat pool leaders France on Thursday night.

Thanks to tries from Alison Miller and Paula Fitzpatrick (2), and a 100% kicking return from Nora Stapleton, Ireland recovered from a shock 14-0 half-time deficit in their second Pool C encounter, and Tom Tierney was relieved to come away with a win in the end.

“We didn’t play well, and we won. It’s as simple as that. We’re not making any excuses about the performance, especially in that first half. Great resilience then by the girls in that second half to score 24 points, with a lot of pressure on and to be able to handle that,” said the Limerick man.

“Albeit with still a number of little mistakes and turnovers and penalties that kind of stopped the flow of the game going our way. Mightily relieved obviously. A win is a win, but we’ve got a lot of work to do if we’re to be competitive against the French on Thursday night.”

From a position where they were favourites to overcome Australia and Japan, Ireland are set to go into Thursday’s Pool C decider with France as underdogs – after les Bleues secured two convincing victories in the past week, scoring 20 tries and 120 points in the process.

Tierney acknowledged that not having the favourites’ tag might make it easier for his side to prepare for such a crunch clash, and he also made reference to their 2017 Six Nations meeting where Ireland enjoyed a memorable 13-10 success at Donnybrook.

“We went into the match against the French in the Six Nations as complete underdogs. We pulled a performance out of the bag there. I think that’s well within our capabilities for Thursday. Favourites or underdogs, or anything like that, it’s not really about that over the next few days. It’s just about really having a mindset that we have to just really look after our jobs, and really look after the basics.

“The basics is the key. You look at any of the core skills. If you do them right, you look a very, very good team. If you don’t do them right, or if you turn over the ball, suddenly then it becomes a stop-start type game, and you’re giving the initiative and you’re giving the flow of pressure back to the opposition,” he added.