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Ireland get World Cup off to a winning start against Australia

Ireland 19 Australia 17

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DUBLIN, IRELAND - AUGUST 09:  Liz Patu of Australia runs with the ball during the Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 match between Ireland and Australia on August 9, 2017 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - AUGUST 09: Liz Patu of Australia runs with the ball during the Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 match between Ireland and Australia on August 9, 2017 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Ireland's Jenny Murphy and Australia's Cheyenne Campbell during the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, Pool C match at the UCD Bowl, Dublin.  Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Ireland's Jenny Murphy and Australia's Cheyenne Campbell during the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, Pool C match at the UCD Bowl, Dublin. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

PA

Ireland's Larissa Muldoon celebrates with her cousin Bobby McCrory, 7, after the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, Pool C match at the UCD Bowl, Dublin. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Ireland's Larissa Muldoon celebrates with her cousin Bobby McCrory, 7, after the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, Pool C match at the UCD Bowl, Dublin. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

PA

Ireland's Sophie Spence celebrates with her mother Myrtle Spence after the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, Pool C match at the UCD Bowl, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 9, 2017. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland Women. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission.

Ireland's Sophie Spence celebrates with her mother Myrtle Spence after the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, Pool C match at the UCD Bowl, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday August 9, 2017. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland Women. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission.

PA

Ireland's Sophie Spence celebrates scoring her side's third try during the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, Pool C match at the UCD Bowl, Dublin. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Ireland's Sophie Spence celebrates scoring her side's third try during the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, Pool C match at the UCD Bowl, Dublin. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

PA

Australia's Sharni Williams and Ireland's Jenny Murphy during the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, Pool C match at the UCD Bowl, Dublin. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Australia's Sharni Williams and Ireland's Jenny Murphy during the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, Pool C match at the UCD Bowl, Dublin. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

PA

Ireland's Sophie Spence on the way to scoring her side's third try during the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, Pool C match at the UCD Bowl, Dublin. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Ireland's Sophie Spence on the way to scoring her side's third try during the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, Pool C match at the UCD Bowl, Dublin. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

PA

Ireland's Larissa Muldoon scores her side's first try during the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, Pool C match at the UCD Bowl, Dublin: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Ireland's Larissa Muldoon scores her side's first try during the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, Pool C match at the UCD Bowl, Dublin: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

PA

Ireland's Larissa Muldoon celebrates scoring her side's first try during the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, Pool C match at the UCD Bowl, Dublin.  Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Ireland's Larissa Muldoon celebrates scoring her side's first try during the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, Pool C match at the UCD Bowl, Dublin. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

PA

Ireland's Larissa Muldoon celebrates scoring her side's first try during the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, Pool C match at the UCD Bowl, Dublin. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Ireland's Larissa Muldoon celebrates scoring her side's first try during the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup, Pool C match at the UCD Bowl, Dublin. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

PA

DUBLIN, IRELAND - AUGUST 09:  Eimear Considine of Ireland is tackled by Katrina Barker of Australia during the Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 match between Ireland and Australia on August 9, 2017 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - AUGUST 09: Eimear Considine of Ireland is tackled by Katrina Barker of Australia during the Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 match between Ireland and Australia on August 9, 2017 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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DUBLIN, IRELAND - AUGUST 09:  Eimear Considine of Ireland is tackled by Katrina Barker of Australia during the Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 match between Ireland and Australia on August 9, 2017 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - AUGUST 09: Eimear Considine of Ireland is tackled by Katrina Barker of Australia during the Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 match between Ireland and Australia on August 9, 2017 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Getty Images

DUBLIN, IRELAND - AUGUST 09: Eimear Considine of Ireland is tackled by Katrina Barker of Australia during the Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 match between Ireland and Australia on August 9, 2017 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - AUGUST 09: Eimear Considine of Ireland is tackled by Katrina Barker of Australia during the Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 match between Ireland and Australia on August 9, 2017 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Getty Images

DUBLIN, IRELAND - AUGUST 09:  Cheyenne Campbell of Australia is tackled by Nora Stapleton of Ireland during the Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 match between Ireland and Australia on August 9, 2017 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

DUBLIN, IRELAND - AUGUST 09: Cheyenne Campbell of Australia is tackled by Nora Stapleton of Ireland during the Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 match between Ireland and Australia on August 9, 2017 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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DUBLIN, IRELAND - AUGUST 09: Liz Patu of Australia runs with the ball during the Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 match between Ireland and Australia on August 9, 2017 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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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