Suttonians’ battle-hardened defence kept Wicklow out late on to secure a 20-15 win in their final Energia All-Ireland League Conference game at Ashtown Lane.
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: WOMEN’S DIVISION CONFERENCE: Saturday, February 19
WICKLOW 15 SUTTONIANS 20, Ashtown Lane
Scorers: Wicklow: Tries: Kathy Byrne, Erin McConnell; Con: Beth Roberts; Pen: Beth Roberts
Suttonians: Tries: Lena Kibler, Lauren Farrell McCabe, Kate Farrell McCabe, Emily McKeown
HT: Wicklow 7 Suttonians 10
Suttonians’ efficiency in the red zone was the difference, with tries from Lena Kibler, sisters Lauren and Kate Farrell McCabe and replacement Emily McKeown helping them to complete a five-match winning run in the Conference.
Wicklow dominated possession for large parts of this Leinster derby, and were rewarded with tries from Kathy Byrne and captain Erin McConnell, along with Beth Roberts’ five-point kicking haul.
The hosts, who trailed 10-7 at half-time, were camped on Sutts’ line during the final 10 minutes, but they could not quite find the key to unlock the north Dubliners’ strong defence.
In Wicklow’s last home league fixture of the season, Ireland Sevens captain Lucy Mulhall was busy from the first whistle, putting in a massive shift in midfield.
Despite some promising early phases with out-half Roberts controlling the attack, Wicklow were unable to put points on the scoreboard.
Approaching the 20-minute mark, Suttonians got their first real foothold in opposition territory. They tested the defence before creating a simple overlap which set up left winger Kibler to go over in the corner.
Shortly afterwards, they came away with more points in clinical fashion. This time scrum half and captain Lauren Farrell McCabe crossed after quickly tapping a penalty, suddenly leaving Wicklow 10-0 behind.
Jason Moreton’s charges found a response before the break, with a run of penalties giving them access to the right areas of the pitch. They were finally able to convert the pressure into points.
A big Mulhall carry almost got them over before prop Byrne managed to score with Roberts adding the extras. Just three points separated the sides at the break.
An early second half penalty from Roberts brought Wicklow level, but just as the home crowd were sensing a shock result, Sutts hit back with two quick-fire tries to regain their 10-point advantage.
Ireland Sevens international Kate Farrell McCabe ran the length of the pitch for a superb solo score, turning some last-ditch defence into attack.
Similarly, the pacy McKeown got the ball in space and, in rapid style, ran in at the corner to pocket the visitors’ bonus point. The quality finishing on show set the two teams apart.
To their credit, Wicklow came back fighting and looking for more. A smart McConnell snipe from a few metres out gave the home support some hope at 20-15 down.
Teenage centre Vicky Elmes Kinlan almost claimed a late levelling score but was stopped just short. Despite Wicklow emptying the tank, Suttonians stood firm to make it five straight wins, ahead of next Saturday’s Conference final against Galwegians.
WICKLOW: Ella Roberts; Meagan Parkinson, Vicky Elmes Kinlan, Lucy Mulhall, Sarah Gleeson; Beth Roberts, Erin McConnell (capt); Kathy Byrne, Noelle Ward, Lauren Barry, Jessica Schmidt, Caitlin Griffey, Emma Curran, Emily Ryan, Niamh Ni Dhroma.
Replacements: Amy O’Neill, Niamh O’Leary, Laura Newsome, Becky Condren, Megan McConnell, Saoirse O’Reilly.
SUTTONIANS: Nicole Carroll; Molly Fitzgerald, Kate Farrell McCabe, Catherine Martin, Lena Kibler; Jessica Kelleher, Lauren Farrell McCabe (capt); Julia Bauer, Julia O’Connor, Katie Reel, Brenda Barr, Grainne Tummon, Aislinn Layde, Louise Catinot, Ciara Farrell.
Replacements: Aoife Brennan, Katie Grant Duggan, Nicola Bolger, Ali Howick, Emily McKeown.