Ireland women hold on to defeat Netherlands in 2026 Rugby League World Cup qualifier

Ireland’s women withstood a late onslaught from the Netherlands Dames to win 16-12 at Donnybrook Stadium in Dublin, in the latest Group A 2026 World Cup European qualifier. The hosts remain in contention for qualification with the group leader and runner up positions set to be determined following next month’s game between Netherlands and Wales, which the Oranje women have to win.

 

Ireland women’s head coach, Matt Jefferson noted: “They’re a great side and full credit to them they played really well. I was panicking for a little while, our dream was on the line, but it was a cracking game – I’d love to play them again. I’ll be helping Wales any way I can so we can keep our hopes alive! It’s out of our hands and we’ll prepare as if we are still playing in the competition. Fingers crossed it’s us against Greece in October.”

 

In perfect, sunny conditions in front of a vociferous crowd, Netherlands lost Rixt Aerts and Sylvie Moelee to head injuries inside 15 minutes, activating the 18th player Arijanna Van Der Kieft. Ireland opened the scoring when hooker Meg Preston dived out of dummy half to cross, Storm Cobain converting.

 

In a carbon copy move, Vera Van Der Zwan did likewise six minutes later and, just after the half hour, Nicole Kennedy crossed in the corner following sustained pressure by the visitors, Lisa Berding’s conversion attempt again short ahead of her being sin binned for kicking out in the tackle.

 

At the start of the second half, Leigh Leopard Cobain picked up a loose ball to go over between the posts and added the extras, Ireland then missing two further chances.

 

On the hour mark, Jessica Kennedy found a gap on the left following a great ball from Linneke Gevers, the try again unconverted but the scores level. The match was settled eight minutes from time by Ireland stand off Cobain’s second try in the corner, with the Netherlands pressing to the last but unable to score.

 

Netherlands’ Stephanie Van Diepen commented: “It was so close but we are immensely proud. It’s so important now that the women’s competition develops in the Netherlands, we will give everything we can in our next game, our team spirit is very good.”

 

IRELAND 16

Cliodhna O’Sullivan, Alice Fitzegerald, Francessca Copley, Mollie Young, Bettie Lambert, Storm Cobain, Alex McGuinness, Mairead Quinn, Megan Preston, Clodagh Dunne, Lisa Callan, Tricia Doyle, Caoimhe Molloy

Interchanges: Niamh Griffin, Rachel Morton, Aine Rutley, Stacy Hanley.

 

Tries: Preston (12), Cobain (43, 72)

Goals: Cobain 2/3

 

 

NETHERLANDS 12

Nicole Kennedy, Monischa Hiermons, Claire Kennedy, Linneke Gevers, Hannah Van Beukering, Hiske Blom, Rixt Aerts, Sela Steenkist, Vera Van Der Zwan, Lorraine Voorbach, Jessica Kennedy, Sylvie Moelee, Lisa Berding.

Interchanges: Paige Schouw, Iris Hansman, Dominique Velema, Stephanie Van Diepen

18th Player: Arijanna Van Der Kieft

 

Tries: Van Der Zwan (18), N. Kennedy (33), J. Kennedy (59)

Goals: Berding 0/3

Sin Bin: Berding (39 – kicking)

 

Half Time: 6-8

 

Referee: Fabien Nicaud (France)