Connacht's Helen Jones gets call up to Irish Team in deserved victory against Scotland
SCOTLAND WOMEN 0 IRELAND WOMEN 23
Scorers: Scotland Women:
Ireland Women: Tries: Niamh Briggs, Tania Rosser, Lynne Cantwell; Con: Niamh Briggs; Pens: Niamh Briggs 2
The three-try victory gave Ireland automatic qualification for next year's Women's Rugby World Cup and also had them briefly at the top of the RBS Women's 6 Nations table on six points.
Defending champions England enjoyed a runaway 52-7 win over France at London Welsh RFC on Sunday, and in the other fourth round game Wales proved too strong for Italy in Mira, eventually securing a 29-7 win.
All that means there are three teams – England, Ireland and Wales – locked together on six points heading into the final round of matches.
Helped by a vastly superior scoring difference, England look set to retain the title.
They need a win at home to Scotland to do so, but if they slip up either Ireland or Wales, who meet at Taffs Well in Cardiff next Saturday (kick-off 1pm), could profit with a final day victory.
Whatever lies ahead for Steven Hennessy's Ireland side, they already have three impressive wins to look back on from this season, having beaten France for the first time, put 35 points on Italy and now 'nilled' Scotland.
In front of an 824-strong Edinburgh crowd, they led the Scots 11-0 at half-time, with full-back Niamh Briggs kicking two penalty goals (22 and 29 minutes) and the Clonmel clubwoman followed up with a try in injury-time.
Scrum half Tania Rosser (42) and centre Lynne Cantwell (69) both touched down in the second half to ease the Irish to another confidence-boosting win.
From the start Ireland looked good with four changes from the defeat last time to England and with a late change on the bench also.
Helen Jones (Highfield) came in for Jess Limbert who was hurt the day before in training. Jones won her first cap as a replacement late on.
Sustained possession and pressure from a tireless pack gave full-back and player-of-the-match Briggs two penalties from in front of the posts, when Scotland, who defended well, were also reduced to 14 players for too many infringements in the ruck.
Both Irish wingers had good runs but in time added on at the end of the first half, Briggs came into the line, taking a pass from Shannon Houston and ran in from 25 metres for a try which she could not convert, making it 11-0 in Ireland's favour.
Playing with what wind there was in the second half, Briggs sent play straight back from the kick-off almost to the 22 and from a scrum Rosser broke through for a solo try almost under the posts. Briggs converted to take her tally to 13 points on the night.
Scotland had their best spell with more possession but very little territorial gain or into the opposition half, certainly never really threatening the Irish line.
Head coach Hennessy was full of praise for his players afterwards.
He used the whole bench before the end including a first cap in ten years for flanker Lauren Day and a first this campaign for full-back Laura Nicholl when Briggs moved to out-half.
Centre Cantwell scored a well-deserved try with ten minutes to go from a short ruck but Briggs put the relatively easy conversion wide.
Hennessy said afterwards: "They all played well and had to because it was hard work against a side who never stopped trying.
"We have achieved what we wanted now this season but they can go all the way next week with a win against Wales."
Team captain Joy Neville, now with over 40 caps, also praised her team-mates, saying: "It was an all-round effort and Scotland never made it easy for us."
SCOTLAND WOMEN: Lucy Millard (Murrayfield Wanderers); Cara D'Silva (Royal High Corstorphine), Laura Steven (Murrayfield Wanderers), Erin Kerr (Richmond), Victoria Blakebrough (Richmond); Tanya Griffith (Royal High Corstorphine), Louise Dalgliesh (Royal High Corstorphine); Heather Lockhart (Hillhead/Jordanhill), Sarah-Louise Walker (Watsonians), Beth Dickens (Murrayfield Wanderers), Louise Moffat (Kirkcaldy), Lana Blyth (Murrayfield Wanderers), Lynne Reid (Royal High Corstorphine) (capt), Ruth Slaven (Murrayfield Wanderers), Susie Brown (Hillhead/Jordanhill).
Replacements used: Suzi Newton (Team Northumbria) for Griffith, Sarah Gill (Murrayfield Wanderers) for Dalgliesh (both 52 mins), Ellen Beattie (Murrayfield Wanderers) for Dickens, Joy Lyth (Lismore) for Moffat (both 65), Keri Holdsworth (Watsonians) for Brown (74), Nikki McLeod (Edinburgh University) for Slaven (76). Not used: Lynsey Douglas (Richmond).
IRELAND WOMEN: Niamh Briggs (Clonmel/Munster); Jeannette Feighery (UL Bohemians/Munster), Lynne Cantwell (UL Bohemians/Munster), Shannon Houston (Blackrock/Leinster), Amy Davis (Blackrock/Ulster); Joanne O'Sullivan (Richmond/Ulster), Tania Rosser (Blackrock/Leinster); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster), Yvonne Nolan (Blackrock/Leinster), Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians/Munster), Caroline Mahon (UL Bohemians/Leinster), Orla Brennan (Blackrock/Leinster), Louise Austin (Blackrock/Leinster), Sinead Ryan (Navan/Leinster), Joy Neville (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt).
Replacements used: Debbie Clarke (Blackrock/Leinster) for Austin (47 mins), Kate O'Loughlin (Clonmel/Munster) for Mahon (54), Lauren Day (Cooke/Ulster) for Neville (68), Helen Brosnan (Highfield/Munster) for Houston, Louise Beamish (UL Bohemians/Munster) for Davis, Laura Nicholl (Cooke/Ulster) for O'Sullivan, Helen Jones (Highfield/Connacht) for Rosser (all 74).
Referee: Brendan Fitzmaurice (England)