Railway Union racked up 11 tries to defeat Cooke 63-0 and move to the top of the Energia Women’s All-Ireland League. Aoife Doyle (2) and Ailsa Hughes returned from international duty with well-taken scores.
ENERGIA WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: Saturday, November 27
COOKE 0 RAILWAY UNION 63, Shaw’s Bridge
Scorers: Cooke: –
Railway Union: Tries: Amanda McQuade, Molly Scuffil-McCabe, Aoife Doyle 2, Deirdre Roberts 2, Molly Boyne, Siobhan McCarthy, Stephanie Carroll, Kate McCarthy, Ailsa Hughes; Cons: Nikki Caughey 3, Hazel Simmons
HT: Cooke 0 Railway Union 34
Amanda McQuade’s early intercept effort set Railway on their way, with versatile forward Deirdre Roberts rampaging through from 45 metres out as Cooke struggled to keep tabs on them.
Molly Scuffil-McCabe, who featured at full-back in Belfast, ghosted through to set up Doyle’s first try of the evening.
Cooke showed their battling qualities with some good spells, particularly from their forwards who are always compete well at set-piece time and in the loose.
However, the hosts were unable to keep Railway’s talent-laden attack quiet for too long, and that score for McQuade – at the rear of a lineout after barely 80 seconds – understandably dented their confidence.
Aoife McDermott’s rip in a tackle soon allowed Kate McCarthy to storm back into Cooke’s 22, Railway building momentum but captain Niamh Byrne had a rare fumble near the try-line.
A turnover and a scrum penalty saw the Dubliners remain in scoring range, and nice hands across the back-line put Scuffil-McCabe over in the left corner. Nikki Caughey missed the difficult conversion.
Roberts’ fantastic pick-up from a ruck and burst of pace saw her make it 15-0, and the bonus point score was run in by Doyle, following Scuffil-McCabe’s classy set-up in the 14th minute.
Cooke started to build from deep, on the back of earning penalties at the scrum and breakdown. Sorcha Mac Laimhin carried well and a short lineout move had captain Aishling O’Connell tearing up into the 22.
Railway skipper Byrne won a turnover penalty a few phases later, and as they lifted the tempo again, Roberts and McDermott made the hard yards before Caughey put Doyle outside Dolores Hughes to complete her brace.
Caughey drop-kicked a sweetly-struck conversion through the posts, and after play swung from end to end, number 8 Molly Boyne’s fast feet took her over on the stroke of half-time with Caughey converting.
Turning around with a 34-0 lead, Railway were frustrated by Cooke’s robust defence until a quickly-taken penalty sent second row Siobhan McCarthy over for try number seven.
The reigning league champions were looking to go up a gear, some interplay between locks McDermott and McCarthy bringing the visitors back into the 22.
Hooker evaded a number of tackles to complete her brace from close range, followed by Caughey’s third successful conversion.
Ilse van Staden clamped down on the ball to win a penalty for Cooke, but they were unable to make much head way and Railway were much more clinical with ball in hand.
Winger Stephanie Carroll was next over the whitewash, putting the finishing touches to a first-phase move from a scrum. Caughey and Byrne used the decoy runners cleverly and Scuffil-McCabe released her back-three colleague for the corner.
That took the Dubliners past the half-century mark – 51 points in all – and scrum half Ailsa Hughes broke through from a ruck and passed out of a tackle for openside Kate McCarthy to get on the scoresheet.
Replacement Hazel Simmons converted and Cooke, who played out the remainder with 14 players, leaked a final try when loose possession from a scrum was seized upon and dotted down by Ireland international Hughes.
COOKE: Dolores Hughes; Georgia Boyce, Lucy Thompson, Coral Lapsley, Tamzin Boyce; Amanda Morton, Teah Maguire; Ilse van Staden, Megan Simpson, Aishling O’Connell (capt), Caolinn McCormack, Sorcha Mac Laimhin, Katie Hetherington, Naomi McCord, Helen McGhee.
Replacements: Fiona McCaughan, Delyth Cook, Claire Johnston, Beth Cregan.
RAILWAY UNION: Molly Scuffil-McCabe; Stephanie Carroll, Aoife Doyle, Niamh Byrne (capt), Ava Ryder; Nikki Caughey, Ailsa Hughes; Amanda McQuade, Deirdre Roberts, Megan Collis, Aoife McDermott, Siobhan McCarthy, Keelin Brady, Kate McCarthy, Molly Boyne.
Replacements: Aimee Clarke, Claire Byrne, Sonia McDermott, Hazel Simmons, Emer O’Mahony.