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Ireland's women set to regroup and take aim at Canada

By Emma Patterson

Ireland's women will bid to step it up in their November Series against Canada tomorrow at the UCD Bowl - vital preparation for next year's World Cup in Belfast and Dublin - after narrowly losing out against England by 12-10 last Sunday.

It was a dogged performance from Tom Tierney's girls who enjoyed plenty of possession but, despite out-performing the visitors, Katy McLean's conversion of flanker Izzy Noel-Smith's 72nd-minute try ensured an English victory.

Despite falling on the wrong side of the result, Paula Fitzpatrick, who captained the side last weekend, saw the positives in her team's display.

"We're coming together again from the last time that we played, which was the Six Nations, so it was a really encouraging performance," she said.

"As we've said to the girls, this November Series is more about performance than results. We're building towards the World Cup so it's a great start for us really.

"We'll take it one game at a time, we've got Canada this week and then we'll be looking to New Zealand at the end of November."

An injury-stricken Ireland squad will be without some of their more experienced players against the Canadians, as captain Niamh Briggs remains on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury picked up in a recent club game, while World Rugby Women's Player of the Year 2015 nominee Sophie Spence is also out due to injury.

Cliodhna Moloney and Claire Molloy will miss out due to injuries sustained against England.

In Briggs' absence, Fitzpatrick will captain Ireland from number eight again this weekend, with head coach Tierney significantly reshuffling his team.

Tierney will make 10 changes from the side that fell to the Red Roses, including two new caps, as he looks to use the Test Series to help some of his less experienced players develop.

Second row Nichola Fryday will make her debut, alongside UL Bohemians' Anna Caplice, who will win her first women's 15s cap having previously represented her country in sevens.

Tierney reflected on a positive performance from the girls in green, but warned that Canada is somewhat of an unknown quantity for the hosts and as such will present a tougher challenge.

"There were lots of positives to take from Sunday's game against England. While the result didn't go in our favour, the players will take a lot from the performance and we will be looking to build on this over the next two weeks against Canada and New Zealand," he said.

"Canada will present us with a new and different challenge.

"We know England well from playing them in the Six Nations, but this week's opposition are less familiar to us.

"They have a very strong rugby programme in Canada and were runners-up at the last World Cup, so we will have to play smart rugby against them and stick to our game-plan.

"We've two more new caps this week as well, so we're looking forward to seeing how Anna and Nichola get on in UCD."

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