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Munster And Leinster Win On The Road In Women’s Interpros

Munster And Leinster Win On The Road In Women’s Interpros

As stars of Ireland’s Six Nations-winning campaign were shining at the Women’s Sevens Dublin tournament, there were also stellar performances from fellow internationals such as Ireland captain Niamh Briggs, Ailis Egan and Sophie Spence in the fifteen-a-side game in the opening round of the IRFU Women’s Interprovincial Championship. Kate Rowan reviews the action.


ROUND 1 – Saturday, August 22

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Scorers: Connacht: Pen: Nicole Fowley
Munster: Try: Fiona Reidy; Pen: Niamh Briggs


Scorers: Ulster: –
Leinster: Tries: Paula Fitzpatrick, Amy Cotter, Ailis Egan, Nora Stapleton, Elise O’Byrne White, Sophie Spence; Cons: Nora Stapleton 4

Women’s Interpros Results/Fixtures/Table

Reigning champions Munster got off to a winning start by overcoming a dogged Connacht outfit 8-3 in a tight first round encounter at the Sportsground. Ireland Women’s head coach Tom Tierney was in attendance as he builds towards the girls in green’s defence of their Six Nations crown.

Niamh Briggs, who is also Munster’s captain this season, was playing at out-half rather than full-back, but as usual she was her side’s designated place-kicker. The Waterford woman opened the scoring with a penalty on the 10-minute mark.

Munster’s slim advantage was soon cancelled out by a three-pointer from Connacht out-half Nicole Fowley. Close to half-time, Munster loosehead prop Fiona Reidy scored a try from a lineout maul. It would prove to be both the only try of the match and also the decisive score.

Despite Connacht’s ability to turn over ruck ball regularly and some good back play from the likes of wingers Niamh Ní Dhroma and Ursula Sammon as well as an injection of pace from Ireland international Sene Naoupu, Briggs and her team-mates hung on to seal a hard-earned five-point victory.

CONNACHT: Aine Staunton (UL Bohemians); Ursula Sammon (Castlebar), Mairead Coyne (Galwegians), Emma Clery (Galwegians) (capt), Niamh Ni Dhroma (Buccaneers); Nicole Fowley (Railway Union), Mary Healy (Galwegians); Laura Feely (Galwegians), Ciara O’Connor (Galwegians), Eimear Murphy (Ballina/Carlow), Rita Breen (St. Mary’s), Marion Sheridan (Tuam/Galwegians), Edel McMahon (NUIG/Galwegians), Grainne Egan (St. Mary’s), Christine Arthurs (Tralee).

Replacements: Ciara Farrell (Tullamore), Amanda Kelly (Tuam), Ruth O’Reilly (Galwegians), Carol Staunton (Galwegians), Catriona Cassidy (Carlow), Jill Draper (Tullamore), Sene Naoupu (Galwegians), Clare Raftery (Galwegians).

MUNSTER: Valerie Power (Shannon); Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (Highfield), Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohemians), Nicola Scully (Highfield), Laura O’Mahony (Tralee); Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians) (capt), Ellen Murphy (Highfield); Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemians), Amy Desmond (Highfield), Leah Lyon (Highfield), Gerda Coyne (Highfield), Elaine Anthony (Highfield), Siobhan Fleming (Tralee), Ciara Griffin (Tralee), Heather O’Brien (Highfield).

Replacements: Zoe Grattage (Highfield), Maura Collins (Abbeyfeale), Niamh English (Highfield), Róisín Ormond (Highfield), Chloe Pearse (Shannon), Mona Fehily (Highfield), Jayne Pennefather (Highfield), Edel Murphy (UL Bohemians).

Moving north to Portadown RFC, Ulster’s home clash with Leinster turned out to be one-sided affair as the Blues triumphed on a 38-0 scoreline. Their try-scoring bonus point has them topping the table after round 1.

The scoring was opened in the 11th minute with a Paula Fitzpatrick try. Seven minutes later, Leinster winger Amy Cotter slipped through to score in the corner after some pinpoint passing from the backs. Further first half scores came from Leinster’s tighthead and new captain Ailis Egan, one of the national team’s most valuable assets, and fellow Ireland star Nora Stapleton.

Leinster showed their ruthlessness just two minutes into the second half when elusive centre Elise O’Byrne White added her name to the score sheet.

From this point, Ulster’s young side – under the stewardship of former Ireland Women’s boss Philip Doyle and Australian Jarrett Truscott – started to show their metal. 18-year-old scrum half Kathryn Dane, on her Ulster debut, showed great control and exactly why she has been touted as ‘one to watch’.

Ulster, however, could not capitalise on their growing confidence and it was Leinster’s blindside flanker Sophie Spence, a nominee for the World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year award, who had the final say from the last play of the game to bring her side’s try count to six.

Giving his reaction to his side’s performance, Leinster head coach Robert Forbes said: “It’s always nice to win, you’re not going to turn down a win. But, if we’re going to be real contenders, we have to improve. We’re going to put our heads into the video.

“We’re going to try and build on a positive start. We’re absolutely certain we’re going to have to raise our game in a number of areas when we face Connacht in Donnybrook.”

The Women’s Interpros continue next Saturday with table toppers Leinster hosting Connacht at Donnybrook (kick-off 5pm) and Ulster making the trip to Thomond Park to face second-placed Munster (2.30pm).

ULSTER: Teah Maguire (Cooke); Amy Davis (Cooke), Grace Davitt (Cooke), Claire McLaughlin (Queen’s University), Eliza Downey (Cooke); Jemma Jackson (Queen’s University), Kathryn Dane (Enniskillen); Ilse van Staden (Cooke), Lesley Megarity (Cooke) (capt), Nikita Armstrong (Cooke), Colette Broome (Queen’s University), Naomi McCullagh (Omagh), Niamh Fitzgerald (Old Belvedere), Imogen Porter (Queen’s University), Lauren Maginnes (Queen’s University).

Replacements: Jamie Love (City of Derry), Sorcha Chipperfield (Cooke), Shannon Heapes (City of Derry), Amy O’Neill (Blackrock), Noreen Nethercott (Enniskillen), Stacey Sloan (City of Derry), Zoe Templeton (Queen’s University), Peita McAlister (Queen’s University).

LEINSTER: Jeamie Deacon (Blackrock); Martina McCarthy (Railway Union), Elise O’Byrne White (Old Belvedere), Aine Donnelly (Port Dara), Amy Cotter (Suttonians); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere), Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union); Fiona O’Brien (Old Belvedere), Sharon Lynch (Old Belvedere), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere) (capt), Ciara Cooney (Railway Union), Orla Fitzsimons (St. Mary’s), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere), Jennie Finlay (Railway Union), Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s).

Replacements: Ann-Marie Rooney (St. Mary’s), Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union), Ruth McElroy (Old Belvedere), Mairead Holohan (Blackrock), Susan Fogarty (Railway Union), Meg Parkinson (Carlow), Vikki McGinn (Blackrock), Janice Daly McGrath (Old Belvedere).