Women’s All-Ireland League leaders Railway Union suffered their first defeat of the season, going down to local rivals Old Belvedere, while St. Mary’s ended their scoreless drought but could not stop the UL Bohemians juggernaut, and Cooke came a-cropper at Blackrock. Katie Byrne rounds up the action.
WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – ROUND 7: Saturday, December 1
Clubs are invited to post the best tries from their Women’s All-Ireland League fixtures on the club’s Twitter, Facebook or Instagram pages using the hashtag #AILWomensTry and tag @irishrugby. The scorer of #AILWomensTry of the Month will receive a voucher for €;250 and each of the monthly winners will be entered into the #AILWomensTry of the Season competition.
RAILWAY UNION 15 OLD BELVEDERE 18, Park Avenue
Full-back Gemma Matthews struck for the match-winning try from a late five-metre penalty as Old Belvedere ended Railway Union’s unbeaten five-match run with a hard-fought 18-15 triumph at Park Avenue. The clubs play the reverse fixture next Saturday evening.
Railway’s lead at the summit was cut to four points after losing the top of the table clash at Park Avenue, a game which they led 10-0 early on thanks to Emma Taylor’s second-minute pick-and-go try and a Sinead Taylor score. It was a hugely competitive contest played in dismal conditions with the majority of play taking place between the two 22s.
Not long after Taylor’s try, Old Belvedere began to mount an attack of their own, with Rachel Healy touching down in the corner following an expertly-placed grubber kick from Ulster out-half Jemma Jackson. Railway struggled with their discipline – an area that head coach John Cronin will want to be much improved for the return match – and a Jackson penalty cut the deficit for ‘Belvo to two points at the break.
Increasing the intensity on the resumption, the hosts hit back with a Larissa Muldoon try from a quick tap, but with Linda Djougang in terrific form, ‘Belvo’s dynamic tighthead scored her fourth try of the season before Matthews proved to be the match winner. Djougang impressed with her physicality, ripping possession from a Railway maul while also making some crucial carries.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) December 2, 2018
Belvedere captain Fiona O’Brien told Irish Rugby TV afterwards: “Having lost to ‘Wegians a few weeks ago, we knew we needed to come back and we knew we needed to make this count. We have Railway again next week and we have Bohs in two weeks’ time. That’s three big games and if you don’t get the wins that could change your position in the table significantly.
“So this win did mean a lot. You have to address that the internationals weren’t around either too and it will have an impact across the league as well but we build as a squad and we’re damn proud to get the win today.”
‘Belvo head coach Josh Brown admitted: “We were slow to start but as I said to the girls, ‘we’re building throughout the season, let’s build throughout this game’. It’s always difficult to win away from home. We were 10 points down and we just built and built and built and we won in the last minute.
“Railway are a team that we love to play, they provide us with a great challenge every single time that we’re here, every single time that they visit us, and we’re looking to every single player who is down in a ‘Belvo jersey, and that’s the reason what we won today.”
ST. MARY’S 7 UL BOHEMIANS 45, Templeville Road
Defending champions UL Bohemians have moved back up to second place following a 45-7 bonus point success at St. Mary’s, an important result given their losing November trips to Cooke and Railway Union.
After a tough few weeks readjusting to life in the Women’s All-Ireland League, St. Mary’s will be pleased to have finally managed to break down the opposition’s defence, an area of play which they have struggled with to date.
Despite a relentless stream of attacking phases from UL in the opening 20 minutes, the Templogue side stood strong to deny them any early points, with Amy Moran, captain Aoife Moore, Heather Carey and Ciara Scanlan all putting in solid performances.
Poor discipline proved to be costly for the bottom side, however, as they found themselves down to 13 players just before half-time. Bohemians capatalising on the overlap out wide to tally up four tries, three of which were converted, through captain Fiona Hayes, out-half Niamh Briggs and number 8 Chloe Pearse with two.
Mary’s managed to capitalise on Bohs being down to 14 players for a yellow card, as Emma Lackey finished off what was a well-worked team try. Once restored to their full complement, the Red Robins regained their form of old with Briggs bagging her second try of the evening, along with singles from Rachel Allen-Connolly and Rosie Newton to round off the scoring.
BLACKROCK 17 COOKE 8, Stradbrook
Cooke head coach Wayne Kelly said his players ‘need to learn to adjust’ to what plays out in front of them after a disappointing 17-8 defeat to a resilient Blackrock team at Stradbrook.
Despite registering the first score thanks to a Vicky Irwin penalty after 15 minutes, Cooke butchered a number of golden opportunities throughout the game which ultimately led to their downfall. Blackrock won a penalty after an initial break by Natasja Behan and number 8 Hannah O’Connor stepped up to kick her side level.
With the momentum shifting in their favour, Philip Doyle’s charges pressed from the restart and were reward with a try from Ali Coleman as she used her slick footwork to evade the oncoming Cooke defenders. O’Connor’s conversion gave the Dubliners a 10-3 advantage with 25 minutes on the clock.
Cooke have proven to be clinical up front so far this season, and ten minutes before half-time, they executed a textbook lineout maul with Ireland prop Ilse van Staden adding another try to her already impressive 2018/19 haul. Cooke defended well early in the second half despite having to spend a lot of time inside their own 22.
A number of knock-ons stifled the fluidity of play, yet Blackrock finally caught their break in the 65th minute. Former Ireland international Jackie Shiels, who kicked astutely from out-half, followed up on good work by the forwards to score the all-important second try. O’Connor added the extras to cap off a fine performance from her team.
WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE – ROUND 8 FIXTURES: Saturday, December 8
Kick-off 5pm unless stated –
UL BOHEMIANS (2nd) v ST. MARY’S (7th), Annacotty, 2pm
COOKE (4th) v BLACKROCK (6th), Shaw’s Bridge
OLD BELVEDERE (3rd) v RAILWAY UNION (1st), Anglesea Road
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