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Mullen Try Decides Dublin Derby In Blackrock’s Favour

Mullen Try Decides Dublin Derby In Blackrock’s Favour

Mullen Try Decides Dublin Derby In Blackrock’s Favour

Lisa Mullen dives over to score the clinching try for Blackrock College against Old Belvedere ©John Crothers Sports Photography

Lisa Mullen’s late try wrapped up a well-judged 17-7 win for Blackrock College in Saturday’s Dublin derby showdown with Old Belvedere.

ENERGIA WOMEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: Saturday, December 4

BLACKROCK COLLEGE 17 OLD BELVEDERE 7, Stradbrook
Scorers: Blackrock College: Tries: Tess Meade, Meadbh Scally, Lisa Mullen; Con: Lisa Mullen
Old Belvedere: Try: Jenny Murphy; Con: Jemma Farrell
HT: Blackrock College 5 Old Belvedere 0

The Energia Women’s All-Ireland League splits after next week’s final round into a top-four round robin series – beginning in mid-January – and a Conference competition for the bottom six clubs.

So Old Belvedere will have a couple more chances to bite back at Blackrock, whose superior scrummaging laid the platform for their latest victory at a bitterly cold Stradbrook.

This heavyweight clash was ultra-competitive right from the off, Laura Feely ripping the ball away from her opposite number, Alice O’Dowd, before Belvedere captain Jenny Murphy quickly hit back with a turnover penalty.

A dominant first scrum from ‘Rock earned them a penalty, but defences were on top for the most part and there were very few scoring chances across the 80 minutes.

As the wind picked up into their faces, Belvedere had little opportunity to get Clare Gorman, the league’s top try scorer with nine tries, involved apart from kick chases.

Nearing the half hour mark, successive penalties has Blackrock on the front foot. A big scrum shove from Christy Haney and company paved the way for number 8 Tess Meade to crash over for a try, near the left corner.

Released by Murphy, Gorman had a good run up past halfway for ‘Belvo. Vic Dabanovich O’Mahony was at the heart of a promising maul in the hosts’ 22, but Feely won a relieving penalty at the breakdown a few phases later.

Trailing 5-0 at half-time, Belvedere had the early possession and territory on the resumption, aided by a lineout steal from lock Elaine Anthony.

‘Rock countered dangerously from deep, with skipper Michelle Claffey weaving through heavy midfield traffic. However, young full-back Maggie Boylan was shepherded into touch.

Sene Naoupu’s introduction off the bench saw last week’s Barbarians centre pairing reunited, and the strong-running Murphy began to make inroads with ball in hand.

A well-orchestrated 54th-minute move off a scrum in the ‘Rock 22 paid dividends, as Naoupu’s brilliantly-timed offload out of a tackle sent Murphy powering over from 10 metres out.

Jemma Farrell confidently converted from a tough position on the right, edging Johnny Garth’s side in front, but Blackrock bounced back strongly through their forwards.

Just six minutes later, ‘Rock flanker Meadbh Scally rampaged over from the edge of the ‘Belvo 22 for their second try, beating four defenders in the process.

Out-half Mullen left-footed the conversion over for a 12-7 advantage and with back rowers Scally and Meade making good metres again, the home side had wrestled back control.

Belvedere defended well – Clodagh Dunne and replacement Niamh O’Dowd won relieving penalties – but they could not get back towards halfway, and Blackrock gradually turned the territory into points.

Mullen, who had switched to play scrum half, settled the issue in the 72nd minute, picking up to score from a close-in ruck after Claffey had carried off the side of a five-metre scrum.

Mullen flicked the conversion wide off the near left-hand post, but it was not needed in the end as Jackie Shiels, at first receiver, was the steady hand that navigated ‘Rock right through to the final whistle.

BLACKROCK COLLEGE: Maggie Boylan; Mairéad Ní Chathasaigh, Michelle Claffey (capt), Jackie Shiels, Kate Cullen; Lisa Mullen, Niamh Griffin; Laura Feely, Emma Hooban, Christy Haney, Mairead Holohan, Eimear Corri, Caoimhe Molloy, Meadbh Scally, Tess Meade.

Replacements: Niamh Tester, Casey O’Brien, Anna Potterton, Roisin McWey, Valerie Power, Adele Leogue.

OLD BELVEDERE: Laura Carty; Clare Gorman, Elise O’Byrne-White, Jenny Murphy (capt), Vanessa Hullon; Aine Donnelly, Jemma Farrell; Alice O’Dowd, Rachel Murphy, Vic Dabanovich O’Mahony, Elaine Anthony, Clodagh Dunne, Jennie Finlay, Lesley Ring, Ciara O’Dwyer.

Replacements: Melissa Hayden, Jan Carroll, Niamh O’Dowd, Ivanna Dempsey, Hannah Heskin, Katie Layde, Sene Naoupu.