Scoring six tries in all, Suttonians ended a three-match losing run with an excellent 38-6 success at home to Wicklow.
ENERGIA WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: Saturday, November 27
SUTTONIANS 38 WICKLOW 6, JJ McDowell Memorial Grounds
Scorers: Suttonians: Tries: Catherine Martin, Penalty try, Molly Fitzgerald 2, Mary Healy 2; Cons: Jessica Kelleher 2, Pen try con, Nicole Carroll
Wicklow: Pens: Beth Roberts 2
HT: Suttonians 17 Wicklow 6
There were braces from Molly Fitzgerald and Ireland squad member Mary Healy, who impressed for Suttonians along with Sophie Gibney and astute out-half Nicole Carroll.
Carroll’s opposite number, Beth Roberts, kicked two first half penalties for Wicklow, who trailed 17-6 at the break but could not convert their second half opportunities into points.
Giving his reaction afterwards, Sutts head coach Stephen Costelloe said: “The result is brilliant for us and again brings us a step forward on how we want to play. It’s all about building on this now going into next week.
“Lots to improve on but it’s great to see week on week it all coming together. Nicole stood out for us, keeping composed at ten, she kept Wicklow on the back foot.
“Mary Healy was driving things forward showing off her array of skills, and Sophie Gibney was a constant threat coming into the line.
“The aim now is to take how we finished against Wicklow into next week’s game (away to Malone) as a minimum, but with the aim to raise our level.
“It’s two really exciting games ahead (before Christmas) against two really good teams (in Malone and UL Bohemians), but as always we aim for two wins.”
There was just over a minute gone at a bitterly cold JJ McDowell Memorial Grounds when Carroll sliced through past halfway and fed the supporting Catherine Martin to go in under the posts.
After Carroll miscued the conversion, Sutts immediately flooded forward again. Nice footwork and a burst of pace saw winger Fitzgerald tear out of her own 22 before a forward pass halted the attack.
A penalty was sent wide by Carroll before an interception from Wicklow co-captain Amy O’Neill, coupled with Meaghan Parkinson’s work at the breakdown, relieved some of the pressure on the visitors.
Sutts’ second score was a penalty try in the 14th minute, full-back Gibney brilliantly getting away from five attempted tackles before being caught with a high shot from Sarah Gleeson in the act of scoring.
Gleeson was promptly sin-binned and the hosts’ penalty try moved them into a 12-0 lead. Roberts pulled back three points, punishing Sutts for going offside on their own 22.
It was nip-and-tuck for a while, Parkinson doing well to earn a turnover penalty in the Wicklow 22 before Carroll and Healy led a choke tackle to win possession back.
However, Wicklow soon broke back into scoring range, setting up Roberts to left foot another penalty through the posts. Now only six points separated the sides.
Closing in on half-time, Sutts reacted quickest to a Wicklow knock-on, their backs getting the ball wide for winger Fitzgerald to finish off in the right corner for a 17-6 scoreline.
A well-struck 50:22 kick from Carroll had the home side on the front foot, early on in the second half. Second row Brenda Barr missed out on a try due to a forward pass.
It was tit-for-tat at the breakdown, until Wicklow’s Emma Curran carried well up to halfway, and then Jason Moreton’s side won a series of penalties to get back into Sutts’ 22.
Aislinn Layde was slow to roll away, earning herself 10 minutes in the sin bin, but Curran, who attacked off a five-metre scrum for Wicklow, was held up by a well-positioned Lauren Farrell McCabe.
Gleeson and Robyn Mullen had a couple of good runs as Wicklow continued to chip away, but Suttonians wrestled back control just after the hour mark.
Tighthead Healy, who was on bench duty against Japan last week, showed her ball-carrying ability with a powerful 20-metre surge to the try-line. Jessica Kelleher’s conversion made it 24-6.
Gleeson had Wicklow knocking on the door, but again Suttonians were physical in defence. When another chance came her way, Healy was unstoppable from 45 metres out, storming through after avoiding an initial double hit.
The Dunlavin native’s second score was converted by Kelleher, with the aid of the crossbar, and another cracking strike by Carroll quickly delivered a 50:22 for Costelloe’s charges.
Wicklow pinched the lineout and ever-willing prop O’Neill kept making carries until she unfortunately had to hobble off injured in the final few minutes.
Suttonians added the cherry on top with a tremendous second try from from Fitzgerald, who was released by a Carroll-led wraparound, 60 metres out, and had too much pace for the tiring defence.
Carroll tagged on the extras for a 32-point winning margin, Wicklow’s all-round effort warranting a closer scoreline but Healy, in particular, grew in influence as the game went on.
SUTTONIANS: Sophie Gibney; Molly Fitzgerald, Jessica Kelleher, Catherine Martin, Jools Aungier; Nicole Carroll, Lauren Farrell McCabe (capt); Katie Grant Duggan, Aoife Brennan, Mary Healy, Brenda Barr, Aislinn Layde, Lena Kibler, Carrie O’Keeffe, Katie Reel.
Replacements: Megan Cullen, Ciara Farrell, Catherine Gavin, Shannen Price.
WICKLOW: Meagan Parkinson; Sue Brady, Aoibhin Stone, Sarah Gleeson, Tammy Breen; Beth Roberts, Erin McConnell (co-capt); Amy O’Neill (co-capt), Noelle Ward, Lauren Barry, Ciara Brennan, Shauna Soady, Emma Curran, Emily Ryan, Niamh Ni Dhroma.
Replacements: Robyn Mullen, Niamh O’Leary, Maya McDevitt, Caitlin Griffey, Nicola Schmidt, Nicole Humby, Naoise O’Reilly.