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Ireland get World Cup off to a winning start against Australia

Ireland 19 Australia 17

Hosts Ireland clung on to claim a nail-biting 19-17 Women's Rugby World Cup opening win over Australia in Dublin.

Replacements Ciara Griffin and Sophie Spence had scored tries to put the Irish in a commanding position midway through the second half.

But the Australians hit back with a late converted try by Hilisha Samoa making it a tense final few minutes for the home side.

Ireland had gone into the game full of confidence but took some time to unlock the Australian defence until scrum-half Larissa Muldoon sneaked over.

Nora Stapleton's conversion gave the Irish a seven-point advantage but Australia hit back with Mahalia Miller reducing the deficit to two points at the interval.

When Wallaroos captain Shannon Parry crossed the line early in the second half Ireland were facing potential embarassment and they reached the hour mark trailing 10-7.

Griffin went over to restore the hosts' lead and another Stapleton conversion gave Ireland four-point cushion.

After a long spell of domination Spence was granted another Irish try via video replay, and it looked like the hosts had done enough to dig themselves out of a hole.

But Samoa's late effort helped Australia get back within touching distance and ensured Ireland would be a very relieved team at the final whistle.

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