Leinster and defending champions Munster will meet in another winner-takes-all finale to the IRFU Women’s Interprovincial Championship in Energia Park next Saturday (kick-off 7.30pm), following big bonus point victories for the pair in Galway and Portadown respectively.
IRFU WOMEN’S INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP – ROUND 2: Sunday, September 9
CONNACHT WOMEN 0 LEINSTER WOMEN 47, the Sportsground
Scorers: Connacht: –
Leinster: Tries: Lindsay Peat 2, Michelle Claffey, Hannah O’Connor, Juliet Short, Jeamie Deacon, Nikki Caughey; Cons: Nikki Caughey 6
HT: Connacht 0 Leinster 28
Powerful Ireland prop Lindsay Peat ran in a brace of first half tries as the Leinster Women whitewashed Connacht in convincing fashion at the Sportsground. Seven tries were scored but Blues head coach Ben Armstrong was more impressed with his side’s display in defence.
With Leinster yet to concede a point in this year’s Championship, the Australian said: “It’s something that the girls identified during the week. They celebrated more for a turnover down in the corner than the tries we were scoring. It’s something we’re aiming to do and something we’d like to keep going into the Munster match.”
The visitors, who were 17-0 first round winners over Ulster, used their wind advantage in the first half to keep Connacht pinned back inside their own half. The influential Peat crashed over from 10 metres out after seven minutes, taking the ball at pace to break two tackles.
Connacht were ambitious in their approach and looked to put width on the ball to gain metres out wide. Leinster’s line-speed was causing problems, though, and Peat showed raw pace to snatch an intercept in midfield and dot down under the posts.
The westerners’ first visit to the opposition 22 came after 32 minutes. They held the edge at scrum time but that attack was short-lived and Leinster plundered two more tries before half-time. Busy centre Michelle Claffey capitalised on a Connacht fumble in the in-goal area to touch down before number 8 Hannah O’Connor scored from deep.
A full 28 points in arrears with Nikki Caughey nailing all four conversions, the expected onslaught from the home side at the start of the second half was hampered by a lack of accuracy at key times. Leinster were clinical in how they punished any handling errors and flanker Juliet Short slalomed through the cover and sprinted to the corner for her third try of the tournament.
Replacement Hannah Tyrrell, who returned from Ireland Sevens duty, had a hand in the next two tries as Jeamie Deacon and 17-point out-half Caughey both finished by the posts. Caughey landed her sixth successful conversion to wrap up the scoring after 55 minutes.
Connacht laid siege to the Leinster line in search of a score. They spent 12 minutes within scoring range and got the Clan Terrace rattling for the last quarter. Their captain Grainne Egan had failed a fitness test on Friday and could not play, but they went close through Ciara O’Connor and Orla Dixon with Jill Draper coming off the wing to direct proceedings at scrum half.
Connacht boss Jarleth Naughton admitted afterwards: “It’s a hard result to take. Anything that could have gone wrong went wrong today and the result doesn’t match what we think of our players. We just have to look forward to next weekend. Ulster come to us here next Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm) to decide third and fourth place in the table.”
CONNACHT WOMEN: Mairead Coyne (Galwegians); Jill Draper (Tullamore), Catherine Martin (Suttonians), Shannon Touhey (Galwegians), Orla Dixon (NUIG); Nicole Fowley (Galwegians), Mary Healy (Galwegians); Laura Feely (Galwegians) (capt), Moya Griffin (Tullamore), Anne-Marie O’Hora (Castlebar), Denise Redmond (Galwegians), Amelie Roux (Galwegians), Tara Buggie (NUIG), Edel McMahon (Galwegians), Nichola Fryday (Galwegians).
Replacements: Ciara O’Connor (Galwegians), Elizabeth McNicholas (Tuam), Julia Bauer (Suttonians), Nicola Caldbeck (Tullow), Clodagh Dunne (Old Belvedere), Hilary Griffin (Tullow), Jane O’Neill (Old Belvedere), Rachel Healy (Railway Union).
LEINSTER WOMEN: Lauren Farrell McCabe (Suttonians); Gemma Matthews (Old Belvedere), Michelle Claffey (Blackrock), Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere) (capt), Elise O’Byrne-White (Old Belvedere); Nikki Caughey (Railway Union), Ellen Murphy (Old Belvedere); Lindsey Peat (Railway Union), Emma Hooban (St. Mary’s), Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union), Aoife McDermott (Railway Union), Meg Kendal (Railway Union), Jeamie Deacon (Blackrock), Juliet Short (Railway Union), Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock)
Replacements: Chloe Blackmore (Railway Union), Christy Haney (St. Mary’s), Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere), Mairead Holohan (Blackrock), Nicole Purdom (Suttonians), Niamh Griffin (Blackrock), Nicole Carroll (Suttonians), Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere).
Referee: Barry Moloney (IRFU)
ULSTER WOMEN 20 MUNSTER WOMEN 40, Chambers Park, Portadown RFC
Scorers: Ulster: Tries: Vicky Irwin, Emma Jordan, Fiona Tuite, Claire McLaughlin
Munster: Tries: Eimear Considine, Chloe Pearse 2, Roisin Ormond, Nicole Cronin, Niamh Briggs; Cons: Niamh Briggs 5
HT: Ulster 10 Munster 19
The well-drilled Munster Women ensured the defence of their Interprovincial title will go right down to the wire after they reeled off six tries to defeat hosts Ulster by 20 points at Chambers Park, the home of Portadown Rugby Club.
Eimear Considine and co-captain Chloe Pearse both continued their try-scoring form from last week’s 24-7 triumph over Connacht in Cork, while head coach Laura Guest was particularly pleased with the improvements in the set piece.
“We fixed the timing issues in our lineout and got some great front-foot ball off it,” said the former Ireland international. “Likewise, we dominated the scrum and earned a few scrum penalties. Starving Ulster’s set piece also allowed us to dominate possession.”
Munster did not have it all their own way in the first, with Ulster fighting furiously for an Interpro win that has eluded them for a number of years. Unconverted tries from Cooke backs Vicky Irwin and Emma Jordan inspired hopes of a surprise result.
Winger Considine marked her first start of the tournament with a well-taken try in the corner after 10 minutes. Niamh Briggs, who tallied up 15 points, swung over a brilliantly-struck conversion and the momentum was really behind Munster after number 8 Pearse broke from a scrum inside the hosts’ 22 and stepped away from the final defender to make it 12-0.
Those scores in quick succession from Irwin and Jordan ignited Ulster’s challenge by the 25-minute mark, and captain Larissa Muldoon and her team-mates maintained a high intensity and level of accuracy, backed by the vocal home crowd.
Importantly for Guest’s charges, they squeezed in their third try just before half-time to give themselves some breathing space at 19-10. The Munster forwards piled on the pressure close to the line, recycling in dogged fashion before Ballincollig lock Roisin Ormond forced her way over.
Two minutes after the restart, Pearse scored again from the back of Munster’s muscular scrum to chalk up the bonus point, and it was the set piece which paved the way for try number five. Nicole Cronin sniped over from a five-metre scrum with Briggs knocking over both conversions.
Soon it was the former Ireland captain’s turn to cross the whitewash, Briggs being the recipient of a well-timed offload from Considine whose strong carry punctured the home defence in the 58th minute. Ulster replied with a try out wide from Dublin University’s Fiona Tuite, who made her debut for Ulster last week.
The ever-industrious Claire McLaughlin deservedly put her name to Ulster’s bonus point try, the centre-turned-flanker powering over despite the best efforts of Considine and replacement Claire Keohane. Those concessions leave Guest in no doubt that further improvements are needed ahead of next Saturday’s trip to Dublin.
“Some errors from the previous week were fixed today but we also need to make sure that we click, rather than missing 10 minutes here or there in a half,” added the former Ireland international. “We’re under no illusions again. Leinster are a very good side and I’d say there’s going to be very little in it.”
Today’s results leave Leinster and Munster level on nine points, with the Blues top of the table courtesy of a superior scoring difference (+64 compared to Munster’s +37). Entry to Saturday’s title decider at Energia Park (kick-off 7.30pm) is free for Leinster Rugby Season Ticket holders and for those that present their ticket from Leinster v Dragons (kick-off 5.15pm) at the gate.
ULSTER WOMEN: Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union) (capt); Eliza Downey (Cooke), Maeve Liston (Ballyshannon), Vicky Irwin (Cooke), Emma Jordan (Cooke); Jemma Jackson (Cooke), Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere); Ilse van Staden (Cooke), Neve Jones (Malone), Shannon Heapes (Cooke), Sorcha Mac Laimhin (Cooke), Rebecca Lawlor (Malone), Beth Cregan (Cooke), Claire McLaughlin (Cooke), Lauren Maginnes (Cooke).
Replacements: Michelle Gormley-McLaughlin (City of Derry), Aishling O’Connell (Cavan), Kathryn Hannah (Ballynahinch), Keelin Brady (Virginia), Ella Durkan (Malone), Peita McAlister (Malone), Fiona Tuite (Dublin University), Brittany Hogan (Railway Union).
MUNSTER WOMEN: Laura O’Mahony (UL Bohemians); Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians), Enya Breen (Bantry Bay), Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians), Laura Sheehan (UL Bohemians); Rachel Allen-Connolly (UL Bohemians), Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemians); Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians) (co-capt), Kate Sheehan (UL Bohemians), Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemians), Roisin Ormond (Ballincollig), Siobhan McCarthy (Railway Union), Edel Murphy (UL Bohemians), Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians), Chloe Pearse (UL Bohemians) (co-capt).
Replacements: Andrea Stock (Bantry Bay), Clodagh Cronin (Durham University), Clodagh O’Halloran (UL Bohemians), Sarah Quin (Richmond), Aine Staunton (UL Bohemians), Christine Coffey (Thurles), Ciara Scanlan (St. Mary’s), Claire Keohane (UL Bohemians).
Referee: Colm Roche (IRFU)
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