ROUND 2 RESULTS -
LEINSTER WOMEN 36 CONNACHT WOMEN 0, Ashbourne RFC
Scorers: Leinster Women: Tries: Aine Ní Chatháin, Jenny Murphy, Shannon Houston, Sophie Spence, Marie Louise Reilly, Katie Fitzhenry; Cons: Nora Stapleton 3
Connacht Women: -
MUNSTER WOMEN 15 ULSTER WOMEN 7, Clonmel RFC
Scorers: Munster Women: Tries: Laura Guest, Ger Rea; Con: Ger Rea; Pen: Ger Rea
Ulster Women: Try: Stacey-Lea Kennedy; Con: Grace Davitt
Munster's quest to retain their Interpro title continued with a well-judged 15-7 victory over Ulster at Clonmel RFC last Sunday afternoon.
The game started at a quick pace and within the first 15 minutes Munster were ahead thanks to a Ger Rea penalty leading 3-0.
Much of the next quarter was spent in a tight battle with both sides probing each other's defence but without making a breakthrough.
That was until Ulster's influential captain Stacey-Lea Kennedy made a break and ran in under the posts with the try duly converted, giving the northern girls a 7-3 lead.
The hosts then turned defence into attack and began to apply pressure inside the Ulster 22. A penalty gave back rower Laura Guest the opportunity to take a quick tap and she barged through for a well-taken try, giving her team a 10-7 advantage at the break.
Playing with the wind in the second half, Munster had the advantage and used it to pin Ulster back who, to their credit, stood strong and repelled the Munster attack.
Midway through the second half Munster centre Rea split the Ulster defence with a move from a scrum to the left of the posts just outside the 22 and got over the line. Rea added the conversion herself to seal a 15-7 success.
Gary Walsh's charges will complete their Championship campaign this Saturday against fellow unbeaten side Leinster at Thomond Park (kick-off 1pm).
Meanwhile, new mascot 'Leona the Lioness' was present for her first Women's match last Saturday in Ashbourne as Leinster took on a Connacht side very much up for the battle.
Leona and a sizeable noisy crowd certainly helped Leinster burst out of the traps, and after only 12 minutes the Marie Louise Reilly-captained hosts were two tries to the good.
The first Leinster score came from a dash off the back of a scrum by Sharon 'Chopper' Lynch deep in her own 22. The explosive back rower linked with Ireland international Sophie Spence who drove up to the 10-metre line before offloading to the third member of the Leinster back row and player of the day, Paula Fitzpatrick.
The supporting Janice Daly McGrath took the ball beyond halfway and up to the Connacht 22 in a fantastic linear attack right into the centre of the Connacht red zone. A fast recycle and Leinster were attacking right, Tania Rosser feeding Nora Stapleton who took it back from Spence on the wrap-around.
Stapleton's quick hands were matched by receiver Michelle Claffey, moving the ball to winger Aine Ní Chatháin who showed good strength to finish in the corner from 20 metres out. Certainly one for the highlight reel, and Stapleton made it the full seven points with a fantastic touchline conversion.
From the restart, a kick from both teams resulted in Leinster possession which found its way to Ní Chatháin again on the wing whose strong fend again brought her team into opposing territory.
Good ruck ball once more saw the experienced Rosser lined with half-back partner Stapleton and a deft flick saw the ball fed onto powerful inside centre Jenny Murphy whose run, back on the angle, tore through the Connacht front line defence.
One-on-one with the final defence and Murphy landed one of her trademark hand-offs to canter in beside the posts to give Stapleton an easy job of extending the lead to 14-0.
From here the girls in blue looked unstoppable but Connacht upped the ante and despite a shaky start big game performers like Alison Miller and Claire Molloy started coming to the fore.
The increased pace of the game asked questions of Leinster but most of them were answered as the blue line held firm until the half-time whistle and 14-0 seemed a fair score for what the crowd had witnessed.
The second period began with Leinster clearly intent on using the elements to their advantage. Canny number 10 Stapleton chipped the ball into the corner on more than one occasion to bring territorial gain.
Leinster battered away at a resilient Connacht defence until the midpoint of the half when another break from the base by Lynch took the ball wide and right.
Scrum half Rosser availed of a quick recycle to switch the attack back infield where her Blackrock club-mate Shannon Houston took a powerful line to bust the Connacht defence and score under the posts. Stapleton added the extras.
Connacht never gave up and the ongoing improvement of the team from out west was noticeable as the refused to lie down, throwing counter punches of their own.
The night, however, was Leinster's and the scoring continued when steppy number 9 Rosser darted blind for her forwards to fall in behind and after good work, blindside Spence powered over the whitewash.
Not to be outdone by her international team-mate, second row Reilly reaped the rewards from a burst by Fitzpatrick, popping up off the side of the ensuing ruck to crash over from ten metres and make it 31-0.
The strength in depth of this Leinster outfit was clearly illustrated by the final scoring act of the evening when a Ruth McElroy carry of 30 metres saw her link with Allanah Lowe who Connacht brought down with some difficulty inside their 22.
Sarah-Jane Cody moved the ball quickly and the irrepressible Fitzpatrick punched another hole in midfield. Cody took it right yet again and swift hands saw the ball moved to winger Katie Fitzhenry who had the strength and speed to get in at the corner.
ROUND 3 -
Saturday, December 14:
MUNSTER WOMEN v LEINSTER WOMEN, Thomond Park, 1pm
Sunday, December 15:
ULSTER WOMEN v CONNACHT WOMEN, Queen's University, 1pm
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