Ireland 23USA 1718 POINTS FROM Niamh Briggs got Ireland off to a winning start in Pool B of the Women’s Rugby World Cup.The UL fullback scored a try and kicked five out of six opportunities in a gritty fixture to give Ireland hope of making the semi-finals.Ailis Egan provided the only other score against the side ranked fifth in the world and a solid defensive display ensured that the US were restricted to two of their own tries but, crucially, just a single penalty. Briggs scores her try. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHOThe US took the lead in the sixth minute, a well-worked line-out move giving possession to Lynelle Kugler and the openside was able to step out of the tackle and dot the ball over the try-line.Kimberly Rozier added the extras to make it a maximum score for the Eagles, but Ireland were allowed an instant opportunity to make it a one-point game and Briggs made no mistake with her second penalty.USA’s forward power brought them greater territory in the opening stages and after 20 minutes they looked to be in another try-scoring position until a brilliant collective effort choked up a US rolling maul. IRELAND: Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster); Ashleigh Baxter (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Lynne Cantwell (Richmond/Exile), Grace Davitt (Cooke/Ulster), Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Tania Rosser (Blackrock/Leinster); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster) (capt), Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians/Munster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Siobhan Fleming (Tralee/Munster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Heather O’Brien (Highfield/Munster).Replacements: Sharon Lynch (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster), Laura Guest (Highfield/Munster), Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Larissa Muldoon (Bristol/Exile), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Jackie Shiels (Richmond/Exile).USA: Meya Bizer (Penn State WRFC); Vanesha McGee (New York RC), Akalaini ‘Bui’ Baravilala (Aliamanu All Blues), Emilie Bydwell (San Diego Surfers WRC), Sadie Anderson (Pennsylvania State University); Kimberly Rozier (Glendale Raptors RFC), Jocelyn Tseng (Berkeley All Blues WRC); Hope Rogers (Penn State WRFC), Kathryn Augustyn (Berkeley All Blues WRC), Jamie Burke (Glendale Raptors RFC), Carmen Farmer (Severn River RFC), Sarah Walsh (Berkeley All Blues WRC), Jillion Potter (Glendale Raptors RFC), Lynelle Kugler (Twin Cities Amazons WRC), Kate Daley (North Shore Chicago WRC) (capt).Replacements: Kittery Wagner (Glendale Raptors RFC), Sarah Chobot (Glendale Raptors RFC), Sarah Wilson (Glendale Raptors RFC), Sharon Blaney (Oregon Sports Union RC), Shaina Turley (San Diego Surfers WRC), Deven Owsiany (Unattached), Hannah Stolba (Glendale Raptors RFC).In pics: Ireland Women claim hard-fought win over USAKeith Wood among three Irish rugby greats to join IRB Hall of Fame In case you missed it, we also have the heaviest and tallest team in the tournament (USA) against the oldest. #wrwc2014— Scrumqueens #wrugby (@ScrumQueens) August 1, 2014 Source: Scrumqueens #wrugby/Twitter There were worrying signs for Ireland as their mis-firing scrum and line-out creaked under pressure. But as the half wore on they enjoyed more time in possession, attempting to stretch the US defence to allow Lynne Cantwell find a gap.The extended set of phases eventually took its toll on the US and the sin-binning of second row Sarah Walsh opened the door for Ireland to rumble in with minimal fuss off the back of a line-out leading to Egan’s score.The sides were evened up minutes later, however, Claire Molloy earning a yellow to allow Rozier narrow the gap, but Ireland had found a rhythm and another patient set of phases on the right flank ended with Briggs planting down a score which she got up to convert. Niamh Briggs in the dressing room pre-match. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHOTrailing 20 – 10, the US started the second half even more powerfully than the first. And Walsh, the woman returning to restore them to the full compliment of 15, made all the difference as the lock trotted over with Irish tacklers complaining of obstruction.That score made for another ominous period of dominance for the US, with Ireland forced to call on all of their experience to thwart powerful and ball-carriers and Siobhan Fleming and Heather O’Brien leading the way in a ferocious breakdown contest.Ireland survived the onslaught. And the introduction of Jenny Murphy from the bench helped to stem the tide. Some powerful carries from the Leinster woman turn the US defence on its heels and forced a penalty which allowed Briggs to extend the lead to six.While the first half was incident-packed, the second was arm-wrestle with both sides knowing one wrong step would bring defeat. Ireland’s greater experience paid off in the end and they grew in stature as the clock ticked down, confidently attacking the right-hand channel late on to force another penalty for holding on.Briggs ended the game with her only missed kick of the day, but she had done more than enough for her side before that point came..Earlier today in Ireland’s Pool B, New Zealand put a tight grip on top spot as they ran up a score of 79 points against Kazakhstan. Out-half Kelly brazier contributed two of the Black Ferns’ 13 tries to underline their intent to take a fifth straight Rugby World Cup crown.Ireland face the Black Ferns on Tuesday.Ireland scorersTries: A Egan, N BriggsConversions: N Briggs (2)Penalties: N Briggs (3)USA scorersTries: L Kugler, S WalshConversions: K Rozier (2)Penalties: K Rozier.