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Coach Griggs believes we can do better

Italy 5  Ireland 25

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Amme-Leigh Murphy Crowe celebrates with player-of-the-match Stacey Flood.

Amme-Leigh Murphy Crowe celebrates with player-of-the-match Stacey Flood.

Amme-Leigh Murphy Crowe celebrates with player-of-the-match Stacey Flood.

Ireland coach Adam Griggs was satisfied with his side's third-placed Six Nations finish but insists his side can do much better after an error-strewn victory.

"It was a little bit scrappy but the result is what mattered. We had passages of good play but we know we have much to improve upon. The biggest positive will be our defensive effort and we had to dig deep there," said Griggs.

Tipp flyer Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe scored a brace of tries on her first start, Stacey Flood was named player of the match after a composed stint at out-half while Brittany Hogan excelled after replacing Grand Slam hero Clare Molloy.

Griggs said: "Stacey managed the game really well, especially in the first-half with the breeze behind her, she put us in the right areas and we let ourselves down with execution when we got in that area. She had a strong game.

Space

"Brittany tested them at the breakdown and brought physicality. And we know what Amee-Leigh can do on the ball, and it was great to see her in space and really back herself and score those two tries."

Ireland were also forced into a first-half reshuffle after captain Ciara Griffin went off with a HIA and did not return.

"It's always tough losing our captain and Ciara does much of the unseen work but Hannah O'Connor came on and she steadied the ship."

This was one of those days when the side who committed the least mistakes - and they were sadly manifold - would triumph; Ireland made marginally fewer, their clinical edge did the rest.

A third victory against the Italians this year may steer them towards a World Cup; on this evidence, they should be untroubled as they cast aside a scrappy first-half, in which they still managed to compile an 8-0 lead, to ease to the winning line in a much better third quarter.

Italy dominated much of the final quarter in the scrums but it mattered little at that stage.

Dorothy Wall's first-half effort and Stacey Flood's penalty had been scant reward for overwhelming territorial dominance but a fine 43rd minute score from the exciting wing Murphy Crowe calmed any fraying nerves.

Cliodhna Moloney nabbed a third as the contest was secured by the 50th minute, and then resumed its error-strewn first-half pattern. Ireland will not care that this was an ugly win, as the greater need overrode any aesthetic desires.

Italy finished strongly with a dominant scrum but it was too little, too late for a side who didn't have enough guile to play for the first-half territory against the wind that may have allowed them express their strengths.

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In fairness, Ireland were comfortable for long periods in preventing them from doing so. A better side would have been out of sight by half-time; Ireland were content enough to put themselves into a position to win it by then but they made gruesomely hard work.

Scorers - Ireland: Tries: Wall, Murphy Crowe 2, Moloney. Pens: Flood. Cons: Flood.

Italy: Try: Bettoni.

Ireland: E Considine (E Higgins HIA 79; A Murphy Crowe, E Higgins (E Breen 73, S Naoupu, B Parsons (H Tyrrell 60); S Flood, K Dane (E Lane 62); L Peat (L Feely 64), C Moloney (N Jones 64), L Djougang (L Lyons 64); A McDermott (G Moore 63), N Fryday; D Wall, B Hogan, C Griffin (H O'Connor 13).

Replacements: N Jones, L Feely, L Lyons, G Moore, H O'Connor, E Lane, H Tyrrell, E Breen.

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