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Combined Provinces Win Opening Celtic Challenge Clash In Wales

Christy Haney of Combined Provinces XV feeds the ball out

Christy Haney of Combined Provinces XV feeds the ball out

Despite a strong second-half comeback, the Combined Provinces edged out the WRU Development XV by a single point 26-27 at Cardiff Arms Park today.

Match Gallery

A strong start from the visitors saw them  set up camp in the Welsh half to put the hosts under pressure.

Combined Provinces captain Hannah O’Connor  punctured the home side’s defence and almost got the first socre but a huge tackle from Sioned Harries held her up over the line.

Eventually the visitors patience was rewarded after quick play out wide sent Ella Roberts over for the opening try.

The hosts had the opportunity to answer back at the restart after a penalty in their favour handed them the line out deep in their opponents 22.

Their first visit into the Combined Provinces half and they didn’t come away empty handed with Teleri Wyn Davies powering her way through for the try. Lauren Smyth converting to put them ahead 7-5

The WRU Development XV looked to go again after capitalising on an Irish mistake to charge back up field but a turnover and clearing kick kept them away. Niamh Terry’s clearing kick was charged down and quickly gathered by the visitors to see Ella Roberts through for her second try. Dannah O’Brien converted to put the Combined Provinces back ahead 7-12.

29.01.23 – WRU Development XV v Combined Provinces XV – Mel Gnojek of WRU Development XV takes on Claire Bennett of Combined Provinces XV and Dannah O’Brien of Combined Provinces XV

Momentum swinging their way and a penalty for the Combined Provinces set up the driving maul in the Welsh 22 to put Emma Hooban in for their third try.

Just before half time, the Combined Provinces had the time and space to sneak in the try in the corner through Ailsa Hughes to put the visitors 7-22 ahead at the break.

Coming out for the second-half, the Welsh side looked to come out firing and piled the pressure onto their opponents. Booting the ball up field out off the back of the visitors scrum, strong support set the Welsh side up nicely for the attack.

Powering through Kat Evans sealed the try for the development side with Catherine Richards slotting the conversion to narrow the score 14-22.

Going again, the Welsh side charged back up field and a penalty in their favour allowed them the shot at the lineout in the 22. Huge power in the drive made room for Harries to score. No conversion kept the Combined Provinces just ahead 19-22.

Back with the ball in hand, the Combined Provinces now capitalised on penalties going against their hosts to put Aoife Dalton in for the try to keep the scoreboard in their favour.

But the Welsh side kept in the fight with a lovely break in mid-field from Niamh Terry who chipped the ball up field to see Jenna De Vera race over the whitewash to score. Richards converting to make it a one point game going into the final ten.

Despite a big last gasp effort from Wales a knock on after a break out wide saw the Combined Provinces hold on to the 26-27 victory.

Next up for the Combined Provinces are The Thistles on Saturday, February 4th in Kingspan Stadium – tickets are on sale here from Ulster Rugby.

Combined Provinces XV (v WRU Development XV)

15. Maeve Liston (Ulster/Blackrock College RFC)
14. Orla Dixon (Connacht/Galwegians RFC)
13. Aoife Dalton (Leinster/Old Belvedere RFC)
12. Kelly McCormill (Ulster/Cooke RFC)
11. Ella Roberts (Leinster/Wicklow RFC)
10. Dannah O’Brien (Leinster/Old Belvedere RFC)
9. Ailsa Hughes (Leinster/Railway Union RFC)

1. Niamh O’Dowd (Leinster/Old Belvedere RFC)
2. Emma Hooban (Leinster/Blackrock College RFC)
3. Christy Haney (Leinster/Blackrock College RFC)
4. Claire Bennett (Munster/UL Bohemians RFC)
5. Clodagh O’Halloran (Munster/UL Bohemians RFC)
6. Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (Munster/Old Belvedere RFC)
7. Maeve Og O’Leary (Munster/Blackrock College RFC)
8. Hannah O’Connor (Leinster/Blackrock College RFC) (captain)


16. Chloe Blackmore (Leinster/Railway Union RFC)
17. Sadhbh McGrath (Ulster/Cooke RFC)
18. Linda Djougang (Leinster/Old Belvedere RFC)
19. India Daley  (Ulster/Cooke RFC/Enniskillen RFC)
20. Molly Boyne (Leinster/Railway Union RFC/Dublin University FC)
21. Katie Whelan (Leinster/Old Belvedere RFC)
22. Clara Barrett (Connacht/UL Bohemians RFC)
23. Ella Durkan (Ulster/Blackrock College RFC).