DIVISION 1 -
BLACKROCK 3 HIGHFIELD 69, Stradbrook
Highfield travelled to meet an injury-depleted Blackrock side and the victory for the visitors was more one-sided than the usual encounters between the two teams.
Straight from the kick-off Highfield forced a turnover, and seconds later Nicola Scully was opening her try-scoring account for the season.
Some great interplay from Niamh English and Orlaith Buckley put Amy Desmond under the posts for a second try minutes later.
Number 8 Heather O'Brien grabbed a brace and then player-coach Laura Guest did likewise, the first after a terrific break from Eilish Foley saw her stopped inches from the line before finding Guest in support. Norita Duggan converted four of the first half tries to leave the half-time score 38-0 to the Cork outfit.
Duggan completed her comeback from a three-year injury lay-off when she dived over for a try following a break by Fiona O'Sullivan.
Blackrock struck back with a single penalty after a good period of pressure saw them attack the Highfield 22. Good linking between the backs from Highfield saw Scully double her tally and Foley grabbed a try from another scything run.
Guest also grabbed late two tries against a spirited but tiring Blackrock defence. As well as the try scorers and seven conversions from Duggan, Niamh English, Foley and Buckley had busy games for the visitors.
Desmond had a promising debut at loosehead prop, and centre Geraldine Rea made a number of surging runs and opened up space for the back-line.
All in all, tt was a satisfying start to the season for Highfield and in particular for Guest in her first league game as player-coach.
OLD BELVEDERE 53 TRALEE 0, Anglesea Road
Dublin side Old Belvedere put newly-promoted Tralee to the sword in their first outing of the league campaign.
Belvedere, as recent enough newcomers themselves to this league, did not enter the game lightly knowing the tenacity of debutants to this league and the potential in the Kerry team's back-line.
The game started strongly with Belvedere managing to claim the first try in the early exchanges. The 'Belvo pack kept up a strong attack and defensive line and made life tough for the Tralee outfit.
The tries came thick and fast in the second half and Ireland Sevens star Jen Murphy was a real threat for Belvedere, eventually being named player of the match.
The 'Belvo tries came from players including Nora Stapleton, Ailis Egan, Carol Murphy and Jane Murphy.
COOKE 12 GALWEGIANS 69, Shaw's Bridge
Galwegians, so often in recent years in arrears after week one, rewrote the script in Belfast on Sunday by outscoring Cooke by 11 tries to two.
Having bid farewell to three senior stalwarts following their landmark All-Ireland Cup victory last winter, Galwegians sought to shore up the gaps vacated by the Connacht-capped Emer O'Dowd and Sarah Healy and Ireland veteran Nuala Ni Chadhain.
Guilty so often of opening games with the handbrake on, the new-look 'Wegians tore into the opening quarter with a physicality more becoming of five or six weeks' worth of a season under their belts.
Largely responsible for this strong start were forwards Ruth O'Reilly, Beth Mallard and Katie McDonagh. McDonagh fielded the lion's share of restarts, relishing the opportunity to launch at the swarming Cooke defence.
Cooke's pack fared well pound for pound in the initial shunt come scrum time, but were outhooked on all but two occasions by Tosh Haywood, who won all her own ball as well.
Similarly, Cooke looked solid defending the set piece and first phase but were found wanting beyond the initial breakdown as blue backs and forwards alike found ample space among the hosts' white jerseys.
Raftery plugged for position and forced the northerners to counter from within their own 10-metre line, and the ever-present Haywood, Staunton and second rower Heather Cary ensured breakouts in broken play were few and far between.
Galwegians surrendered their first try, having scored two of their own, 12 minutes in but guaranteed the bonus point by the 30-minute mark. They racked up two more before half-time.
'Wegians kicked off the second spell 36-8 ahead and despite being held scoreless for 15 minutes, they hit back with three tries on the trot before 25 minutes ticked over.
Apart from a Staunton surge down a vacant blindside 60 metres out, and a McDonagh intercept, the nine other tries came by way of sustained phase play and pressure from backs and forwards in concert.
Field position courtesy of skipper Raftery's educated right boot, assisted on occasion by McDonagh's own as well, enabled the visitors to mount attack after attack from within the Cooke half.
Tries from Mallard, Raftery, Maire Murray, Sorcha Ni Chadhain, Cary and O'Reilly were enough to secure a comfortable opening round victory.
UL BOHEMIANS 46 ST. MARY'S 0, Annacotty
Reigning champions UL Bohemians opened their All-Ireland league campaign in style with a big win over St. Mary's at Annacotty.
Bohs were on the scoreboard after just a minute of play when Niamh Kavanagh raced over and a successful conversion by Nicole Fitzgerald gave them an early lead.
In the ninth minute, newcomer Liz Bourke scored her first try for the Robins on the right wing after some great handling and passing from the halfway line.
Kavanagh was soon in for a hat-trick of tries and Bohs were already in bonus point territory after half an hour. Another well-taken try was scored by Claire Keohane five minutes later with Bohs leading 29-0 at the break.
There was more of the same in the second half with good open rugby and good possession by the forwards, allowing the ball to be moved again and again across the pitch in attack.
This resulted in a sixth try on 45 minutes when Fiona Hayes crashed over with the support of the pack. UL Bohs kept up the pressure and as ever Jeannette Feighery was on hand to score try number seven.
With 57 minutes on the clock, Olivia Stapleton made a great break down the right wing and cut in to score close to the posts with another conversion by Keohane.
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