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A nightmare week for Irish women's rugby continued on Monday with a World Cup qualifier defeat to Spain. 

Adam Griggs' side went down 8-7 in the opening match of the European qualifier in Spain.

The defeat leaves Ireland on the back foot for World Cup qualification, with only the group winners automatically earning a place in New Zealand.

It also adds fuel to criticism of the IRFU's handling of the women's game, after controversy involving changing facilities for the Vodafone Interpro Championships

Despite concession of an early penalty, things had started brightly for Ireland with a converted Beibhinn Parsons try giving them the lead inside 9-minutes.

Ireland started the second half brightly, with Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe crossing the whitewash with what appeared to be the second try of the match. However, the score was ruled out by the TMO for a knock-on in the build-up.

The decision appeared to hit Irish confidence as - despite plenty of territory - they failed to augment their lead.

Spain smelled blood, and were denied a penalty try in the closing stages.

With seven minutes to go, the Iberians were in front. Debutant Lea Ducher scored the try, with the conversion missed by Patricia Garcia.

Spain clung on for a famous win that severely dents Ireland's chances of qualifying from the group.

Ireland go on to play group hosts Italy on Sunday. The Azzurri opened their campaign with six-try 38-13 victory over Scotland earlier in the day.

The second placed team in the group will go forward to the Final Qualifying Tournament where Samoa and Colombia await.

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