The Combined Provinces made it two wins out of two in the Celtic Challenge by outscoring the Scottish Thistles by seven tries to two at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast as it finished 45-12.
The Combined Provinces had the first chance in the opening minutes, centre Leah Tarpey made a line break and raced into the Thistles 22, the visitors went of their feet at the ruck, the home side turned down a kickable penalty to go to the corner but couldn’t secure the line out.
Tarpey wasn’t to be denied two minutes later, the Railway Union centre took a crash ball just outside the opposition 22, used her footwork and power to beat four attempted tackles and go under the posts making out half Dannah O’Brien’s conversion a formality.
The home side increased their lead with a second try on 18 minutes.
The Combined Provinces won a penalty five metres from the Thistles line, they opted to take a scrum, No 8 Hannah O’Connor broke from the base, after two phases lock Claire Bennett came onto the ball at pace and couldn’t be stopped from short range, O’Brien knocked over the simple conversion.
Maeve Óg O’Leary got the home side’s third try on 31 minutes, the Thistles had a scrum close to their own try line, the Combined Provinces pack got the nudged on and were able to wheel it. The visitors scrum half Mairi McDonald threw a poor behind her own line to Sarah Denhoim, the out half’s attempted clearance was charged down by Og O’Leary and the flanker was able to apply downward pressure for the try, O Brien adding the extras.
The Irish team profited from more poor Thistles defence two minutes before the break, prop Linda Djougang cut through before offloading to Aoife Dalton, the centre fed Ella Roberts, the winger broke a tackle to race over in the corner but O’Brien couldn’t convert from a tight angle.
The Thistles opened their account in the first half injury time, from a breakdown loose head prop Panashe Muzambe spun the ball wide to Franceca McGhie, the winger sped over from just inside the 22 for an unconverted try to cut the Combined Provinces lead at the interval to 26-5.
McGhie scored her and the Thistles second try six minutes after the restart, the visitors were trying to exit their own 22 and threw the ball wide. The Wastonians winger collected just outside her 22 hit the accelerator avoiding two poor attempted tackles to go under the posts with centre Emma Orr converting.
The Combined Provinces replied five minutes later, O’Connor broke from the base of a scrum, Dalton ran a great line to come onto the ball just inside the 22 and went under the posts unopposed with O’Brien converting.
The Combined Provinces produced a scintillating move on 65 minutes, from a scrum in their own half they decided to put width on the ball, Ella Durkan, Tarpey and Molly Scuffi McCabe all moved the ball through the hands to release Roberts and the winger raced clear for her second try but O’Connor failed to convert.
Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird powered her way over for a try on 71 minutes, the Old Belvedere flanker got the ball on the 22 and held over six attempted tackles to reach the line and ground the ball with captain O’Connor converting.
Speaking about the performance Head Coach Greg McWilliams said,
“The age profile of our backline is young so they’re getting an opportunity to get experience and I thought our shape at times was excellent. There’s still a lot of work to do but the the girls are working hard and we’ve seen some a real future for some of these younger players. That’s one of the main goals for this opportunity.
‘We’ve also had some good leadership opportunitites for senior players so that’s another great positive. There’s some elements we imporved from last week but there’s plenty of areas we can work on and improve.”
Combined Provinces: Tries: Leah Tarpey 4 mins, Claire Bennett 18 mins, Maeve Og O’Leary 31 mins, Ella Roberts 38 mins, 65 mins mins, Aoife Dalton 51 mins, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird 71 mins; Cons: Dannah O’Brien 4mins,18 mins, 31 mins, 51 mins, Hannah O’Connor 71 mins.
Scottish Thistles: Tries: Franceca McGhie 40 mins, 46 mins; Cons Emma Orr 46 mins.
Ella Durkan, Clara Barrett, Leah Tarpey, Aoife Dalton, Ella Roberts, Dannah O’Brien, Molly Scuffil McCabe,
Niamh O’Dowd, Jess Keating, Linda Djougang, Claire Bennett, Fiona Tuite, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Maeve Og O’Leary, Hannah O’Connor,
Replacements: Emma Hooban, Mary Healy for Djougang 58 mins Megan Collis, Eimear Corri for Bennett 58nmins, Sophie Barrett for Tuite 66 mins, Katie Whelan for O’Brien 63 mins, Kayla Waldron for Tarpey 66 mins, Maeve Liston for Barrett 66 mins
Roma Fraser, Rachel Philipps, Holly McIntyre, Emma Orr, Francesca McGhie, Sarah Denholm , Mairi McDonald,
Panashe Muzambe, Elis Martin, Elliann Clarke, Charlotte Boan, Natasha Logan, Eva Donaldson, Erinn Foley, Freya Walker
Replacements: Nikki Simpson for Walker 52 mins, Poppy Fletcher, Lindsay McDiarmid for Foley 51 mins, Kiera MacDonald, Alex Stewart, Rhea Clarke for McDonald 59 mins, Ceitidh Ainsworth, Hannah Walker for Phillips 66 mins