Hannah O’Connor’s 11-point kicking haul proved crucial as Blackrock College won 16-13 to end Railway Union’s 10-match unbeaten run in the Energia Women’s All-Ireland League.
O’Connor converted Meabh Deely’s 79th-minute try as ‘Rock’s statement win at Park Avenue moved the Top Four leaders a step closer to a place in next month’s final.
Good hands off a close-in scrum saw Railway’s Molly Boyne, Ailsa Hughes and Molly Scuffil-McCabe combine to send USA international Tess Feury over for a 17th-minute try.
Nikki Caughey had landed an earlier penalty, and after a brilliant O’Connor three-pointer from distance, Railway conjured up a second try for the impressive Feury.
She jinked over from the edge of the Blackrock 22 after good work by captain Niamh Byrne at the breakdown and full-back Scuffil-McCabe’s precise pass.
O’Connor closed the gap to 13-6 for half-time, and despite Blackrock dominating territory during the third quarter, Railway’s well-organised defence kept them out.
A superb break from scrum half Hughes had the hosts hunting down a third try, but Blackrock won the battle of the breakdown and influential replacement Jackie Shiels turned the screw.
Shiels followed up on her own kick to win a penalty which O’Connor fired over, making it 13-9, before full-back Deely scampered over for the all-important try, released by passes from Shiels and Aoife Wafer.
Captain Chloe Pearse and Enya Breen scored two tries each as UL Bohemians handed Old Belvedere a 41-7 beating to move into second place.
UL out-half Nicole Cronin opened the scoring at the UL Arena, throwing a neat dummy and darting over from 12 metres out. Alana McInerney’s weaving break had Belvedere on the back foot before that.
Pearse picked from a ruck and rumbled over, quickly adding her second five-pointer with a strong run from the edge of the visitors’ 22.
Munster’s Interprovincial title-winning skipper Sarah Quin squeezed over for the bonus point score and a 22-0 interval lead for the Red Robins.
Spurred on by Johnny Garth’s half-time words, Belvedere hit back with an early try from hooker Vic Dabanovich O’Mahony, who barged over from a few metres out after Jemma Farrell had tapped a penalty.
However, Bohs made sure they bounced back to winning ways with another purple patch. They reeled off three more tries in 10 minutes, some nice footwork taking replacement Clodagh O’Halloran in under posts following Muirne Wall’s quick tap and break.
Centre Breen closed out the scoring with a breakaway double, her first try seeing her use a strong fend to accelerate past halfway for an excellent 60-metre run-in. The 22-year-old showed her power and pace to score again, wide on the left.
The battle for the Conference trophy looks a three-horse race with Suttonians and Galwegians level at the summit, and Ballincollig just two points behind.
Ballincollig won the latest meeting of the promoted clubs, lock Denise Redmond landing seven points from the tee in their 17-14 triumph at Wicklow.
Suttonians continued their terrific recent form, building a 22-5 half-time lead at home to Malone before Mary Healy came off the bench to run in a second half hat-trick of tries.
Catherine Martin broke a tackle and sent a well-timed pass out for the flying Molly Fitzgerald to score the opening try from 30 metres out.
The same two players spearheaded a pacy break downfield straight from the restart, with Fitzgerald feeding a pass back inside for captain Lauren Farrell McCabe to outpace her opposite number, Shirelle Wilson, and score from Malone’s 10-metre line.
A lovely jink and burst of pace took Malone full-back Holly Brannigan through a gap for her sixth try of the campaign, but Sutts wrestled back control to give themselves a 17-point cushion at the break.
Lena Kibler crossed from close range before hard-working centre Martin deservedly bagged the bonus point, surging over via an inviting flat pass from out-half Nicole Carroll.
With Malone losing number 8 Lauren Maginnes to the sin bin, prop Healy took centre stage with two strong carries for tries and then a superb solo effort from the visitors’ 10-metre line that showed exactly why she is on the cusp of an Ireland cap.
Number 8 Aifric O’Brien drove over from a few metres out to complete a runaway 46-5 victory for Stephen Costelloe’s charges.
They have won four of their last five games and host Galwegians next Saturday in a mouth-watering top of the table clash.
Winger Rhiann Heery touched down twice during Galwegians’ 27-7 dismissal of Cooke. The Blue Belles built early momentum when Orla Dixon nipped over for her seventh try of the league season.
They added two more scores through Dearbhla Canty and Heery, who was released for the left corner, before Cooke scrum half Hannah Downey sidestepped her way over to close the gap to 17-7.
Into the second half at Crowley Park, young second row Faith Oviawe notched the bonus point for Jarrad Butler’s side, and they stretched Cooke’s defence for Heery’s second of the day, set up by a well-timed pass from captain Mairéad Coyne.