It may have been low scoring, but it was edge of the seat stuff throughout as Leinster pipped hosts Munster 10-7 to double their win tally in the PwC Under-18 Girls Interprovincial Championship.
Munster battled back brilliantly from two tries down and a sin-binning, with replacement Aoibheann Hahessy crashing over for a converted score with seven minutes remaining to set up a tense conclusion.
However, Leinster, who had touched down through Amy Larn and Robyn O’Connor, held firm in impressive fashion to claim an important result in their bid to retain the title.
Mick Bolger’s Blues sit at the top of the table on nine points, but Connacht, who have had two games postponed, are still in contention. They meet Leinster at Energia Park next Sunday in their rescheduled tie.
PWC UNDER-18 GIRLS INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP – ROUND 3: Saturday, September 10
MUNSTER UNDER-18 GIRLS 7 LEINSTER UNDER-18 GIRLS 10, Musgrave Park
Scorers: Munster: Try: Aoibheann Hahessy; Con: Caitriona Finn
Leinster: Tries: Amy Larn, Robyn O’Connor
HT: Munster 0 Leinster 10
Leinster got on the front foot early on, winning a series of penalties and building a promising attack with some deft offloading from forwards Prudence Isaac, Hannah Wilson and Clíodhna Ní Chonchobhair.
The hosts defended stoutly, winning two clearing penalties in response, and were able to release the in-form Ellie Cournane for a sprint down the left wing. Emma Brogan brought her down with a textbook tackle.
Abby Moyles and Isaac combined to win turnover ball for Leinster, who steadily worked their way back into try-scoring range in the ninth minute with Isaac and O’Connor both carrying to very good effect.
Greystones’ Eva Sterritt then tidied up an attack with quick hands before a jinking O’Connor was able to release Larn to go over untouched from her left wing berth.
After Moyles’ conversion came back off the left hand post, crooked lineout throws thwarted both sides. Munster took encouragement from a pacy break by Lyndsey Clarke and good work at the breakdown from prop Ciara Fleming.
However, when Caitriona Finn failed to find touch from a penalty, Athy flyer Larn gobbled the metres back on a mazy run that took her past seven players. Leinster soon lifted their attack up another level.
Munster full-back Ellen Boylan tackled Brogan into touch to foil the initial surge, but Leinster continued to carry more of a threat with ball in hand, and the hosts lost winger Clarke to the sin bin for a high tackle on O’Connor.
A handling error saw Leinster miss out on an immediate try, yet a scrum infringement and quick tap paved the way for Isaac and Cara Martin to send the lively O’Connor over in the left corner.
Fethard’s Beth Buttimer (pictured above) claimed a turnover penalty to help Munster keep the deficit at 10 points, and Boylan did well to defend a dangerous chip and chase from Leinster centre Martin early in the second half.
Munster then enjoyed a purple patch, forcing the visitors to concede penalties and Bruff lock Aimee Kelly also pinched a lineout. Loosehead Fleming gave them plenty of momentum with a terrific carry up in the 22.
Scoring chances dried up amid a spate of injury stoppages, yet Munster continued to plug away and got the score that their efforts deserved during the closing stages.
Niamh McCarthy and industrious number 8 Buttimer both won penalties at the breakdown as Willie Shubart’s charges put the squeeze on Leinster in terms of territory.
Off a close-in lineout, Buttimer and Saidhbh Morrison both carried hard, bringing Leinster back close to their own posts before Ennis youngster Hahessy hurtled onto a pass to crash over to the right of the posts.
Finn curled over the conversion to make it 10-7, with the home support in full voice, and the three-point gap remained after Leinster out-half Moyles missed a penalty in response.
Munster tried their best to break out of their own half in the dying minutes, but Leinster were well organised in defence. A final ground-gaining burst from energetic winger Brogan (pictured below) allowed them to recycle and kick the ball dead.
MUNSTER U-18 GIRLS: Ellen Boylan (Carrick-on-Suir RFC); Lyndsay Clarke (Ennis RFC), Emily O’Regan (Tralee RFC), Caitriona Finn (UL Bohemian RFC/Ballina-Killaloe RFC) (co-capt), Ellie Cournane (Iveragh RFC/Tralee RFC); Kate Flannery (Fethard RFC/UL Bohemian RFC), Rebecca Rodgers (Ballina-Killaloe RFC); Ciara Fleming (Carrick-on-Suir RFC), Aoife Fleming (Carrick-on-Suir RFC), Niamh McCarthy (Bantry Bay RFC), Aimee Kelly (Bruff RFC), Saoirse Crowe (Kilrush RFC), Saskia Wycherley (Bantry Bay RFC) (co-capt), Clodagh O’Keefe (Ballincollig RFC), Beth Buttimer (Fethard RFC).
Replacements: Katie Gleeson (Thurles RFC), Sadie Murphy (Ballincollig RFC), Megan O’Callaghan (Bandon RFC), Saidhbh Morrison (Tralee RFC), Aoibheann Hahessy (Ennis RFC), Emma Keane (Ennis RFC), Katie Hehir (Shannon RFC), Orna Moynihan (Ennis RFC).
LEINSTER U-18 GIRLS: Robyn O’Connor (Wexford Wanderers RFC); Emma Brogan (Navan RFC), Eva Sterritt (Greystones RFC), Cara Martin (Navan RFC), Amy Larn (Athy RFC); Abby Moyles (Navan RFC), Jade Gaffney (Navan RFC); Hannah Wilson (Old Belvedere RFC), Ava Kavanagh (Arklow RFC), Isobel Clerk (Mullingar RFC), Koren Dunne (Portlaoise RFC), Clíodhna Ní Chonchobhair (Balbriggan RFC), Prudence Isaac (Arklow RFC), Orla Wafer (Enniscorthy RFC), Amy O’Mahony (Greystones RFC).
Replacements: Kelly Burke (Mullingar RFC), Lauren Fitzpatrick (Navan RFC), Abigail Keatley Kindregan (Athy RFC), Jane Neill (Arklow RFC), Blathnaid Smith (Portarlington RFC), Eve Prendergast (New Ross RFC), Abaigeal Connon (Tullamore RFC), Fiona Fennessy (Athy RFC).
PWC IRFU UNDER-18 GIRLS INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP – FIXTURES/RESULTS:
ROUND 1 –
Connacht U-18s 39 Munster U-18s 17, Corinthian Park, Galway Corinthians RFC
Ulster U-18s 0 Leinster U-18s 66, Newforge Country Club
ROUND 2 –
Munster U-18s 47 Ulster U-18s 5, Musgrave Park
Leinster U-18s v Connacht U-18s, Energia Park (Sunday, September 18, kick-off 3pm)
ROUND 3 –
Munster U-18s 7 Leinster U-18s 10, Musgrave Park
Ulster U-18s v Connacht U-18s, Newforge Country Club (date/kick-off time – tbc)
PWC IRFU UNDER-18 GIRLS INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP – TOP SCORERS:
20 – Amy Larn (Leinster)
15 – Lyndsey Clarke (Munster), Ellie Cournane (Munster)
14 – Kate Flannery (Munster), Abby Moyles (Leinster), Éabha Nic Dhonnacha (Connacht)
12 – Caitriona Finn (Munster)
10 – Koren Dunne (Leinster), Robyn O’Connor (Leinster)
5 – Clara Barrett (Connacht), Emma Brogan (Leinster), Beth Buttimer (Munster), Hannah Clarke (Connacht), Maia Finane (Ulster), Jess Griffey (Leinster), Aoibheann Hahessy (Munster), Prudence Isaac (Leinster), Niamh McCarthy (Munster), Sarah McCormick (Connacht), Ellen O’Toole (Connacht), Mila Sotoparra (Connacht), Eva Sterritt (Leinster)
2 – Abaigeal Connon (Leinster)
4 – Amy Larn (Leinster)
3 – Lyndsey Clarke (Munster), Ellie Cournane (Munster)
2 – Kate Flannery (Munster), Koren Dunne (Leinster), Éabha Nic Dhonnacha (Connacht), Robyn O’Connor (Leinster)
1 – Clara Barrett (Connacht), Emma Brogan (Leinster), Beth Buttimer (Munster), Hannah Clarke (Connacht), Maia Finane (Ulster), Jess Griffey (Leinster), Aoibheann Hahessy (Munster), Prudence Isaac (Leinster), Niamh McCarthy (Munster), Sarah McCormick (Connacht), Ellen O’Toole (Connacht), Mila Sotoparra (Connacht), Eva Sterritt (Leinster)