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Ireland Under-18 Women Stand Tall On Second Day Of Six Nations Festival

Ireland Under-18 Women Stand Tall On Second Day Of Six Nations Festival

Ireland's Robyn O'Connor, one of the returning players from last year, takes on the Scottish defence at Wellington College ©Miles Myerscough-Harris/Expired Film Club

The Ireland Under-18 Women’s team (supported by PwC) recorded their second win of the Six Nations Festival this morning, and also took the game to England for much of their keenly-contested clash.

Killarney prop Lily Morris touched down in each 35-minute match as Larissa Muldoon’s Ireland side ran out 31-5 winners over Scotland, and then lost out 14-5 to the tournament hosts in a titanic battle.

The U-18 Women’s Six Nations Festival, which is being held this year at Wellington College in Berkshire, concludes on Saturday with Ireland playing only their second full international at this level against Wales (kick-off 2.15pm).

They can take plenty of encouragement from their first two days of action, having picked up their first ever Festival victories and finished just a try behind the two unbeaten teams, France and England.

Sadhbh McGrath, who recently made her Ireland senior debut, played in last year’s U-18 Six Nations Festival in Edinburgh. The event provides a crucial step in strengthening the foundations for future generations as well as giving fans the chance to see some potential future Six Nations stars.

The three-day format, beginning with 35-minute fixtures and closing with full 70-minute games, allows each team to play one another, every player to start at least one fixture and each Union to benchmark the progress of their female athletes across the competitive spectrum.

Day 1 Round-Up: Ireland Off To A Good Start At U-18 Women’s Six Nations Festival


Day 1 (Friday, April 7 at Wellington College) –

England 10 Wales 0
Scotland 0 England 21
Wales 17 Scotland 7
France 24 Ireland 15
Italy 0 France 55
Ireland 10 Italy 0

Day 2 (Tuesday, April 11 at Wellington College) –

Scotland 5 Ireland 31
Ireland 5 England 14
France 46 Scotland 0
England 15 Italy 7
Wales 0 France 7
Italy 7 Wales 0

Day 3 (Saturday, April 15 at Wellington College) –

Italy v Scotland, 12pm
Ireland v Wales, 2.15pm
England v France, 4.30pm


Tuesday, April 11 –

SCOTLAND UNDER-18s 5 IRELAND UNDER-18s 31, Wellington College
Scorers: Scotland: Try: Hannah Dunnett
Ireland: Tries: Lily Morris, Lucia Linn, Emma Brogan, Beth Buttimer, Lyndsey Clarke; Cons: Caitriona Finn 3

Ireland seized the initiative early on against Scotland, hitting the front inside five minutes. Robyn O’Connor and Alma Obehi Atagamen were both prominent as ball carriers, with scrum half Grainne Moran beavering away from ruck to ruck.

It was Munster front rower Morris who picked and drove her way over for the opening try. Her provincial colleague, Caitriona Finn, continued her impressive kicking form in the green jersey with a cracking conversion from the left.

Beibhinn Gleeson won a turnover penalty to prevent Scotland from responding, and with a further penalty allowing Finn to boot her team back close to the Scottish 22, a nice move off a lineout maul paid dividends.

Beth Buttimer connected with captain Saskia Wycherley in the set piece, the drive gaining good ground before Finn’s skip pass put industrious centre Lucia Linn ghosting through a gap and over for a ninth-minute try.

Obehi Atagamen and Poppy Garvey’s decoy runs sucked in defenders in the build-up, allowing the pacy IQ Rugby back to score from the edge of the Scottish 22. Finn’s missed conversion left it 12-0.

A Faye Sutherland break was thwarted by a quick turnover by Buttimer, but Scotland scored soon after. Chloe Brown barged up close and scrum half Hannah Dunnett showed good feet to get over from the ruck.

However, some good work from Katie Corrigan and Moran at the breakdown – an area that Ireland continued to hold the edge in – allowed the girls in green build momentum for their third try.

It arrived in the 23rd minute, another well-executed maul doing some damage before out-half Finn swept a cross-field kick out to the left and Emma Brogan gathered it on the bounce, ahead of Nicole Flynn, to make it 17-5.

Scotland winger Hollie Howland’s sin-binning for a deliberate knock-on was punished by Ireland with two more tries. The heavily-involved Buttimer crossed for the bonus point effort from that reliable lineout platform.

Finn’s left boot expertly lobbed over the extras and she did likewise right at the death, converting replacement Lyndsey Clarke’s eye-catching intercept try after she had swooped on an Isla Jamieson pass near Ireland’s 10-metre line.

Team: Robyn O’Connor (Wexford Wanderers RFC/Leinster); Niamh Murphy (Cill Dara RFC/Leinster), Katie Corrigan (Tullow RFC/Leinster), Lucia Linn (Loughborough University/IQ Rugby/Munster), Emma Brogan (Navan RFC/Leinster); Caitriona Finn (UL Bohemian RFC/Ballina-Killaloe RFC/Munster), Grainne Moran (Ballina RFC/Connacht); Grainne Burke (Ennis RFC/Munster), Beth Buttimer (Fethard RFC/Munster), Lily Morris (Killarney RFC/Munster), Alma Obehi Atagamen (Balbriggan RFC/Leinster), Poppy Garvey (Sligo RFC/Connacht), Saskia Wycherley (Bantry Bay RFC/Munster) (capt), Beibhinn Gleeson (Oughterard/Tuam RFC/Connacht), Orla Wafer (Enniscorthy RFC/Leinster).

Replacements: Ellen O’Toole (Westport RFC/Connacht), Kelly Burke (Mullingar RFC/Leinster), Roisin Maher (Creggs RFC/Connacht), Ailish Quinn (Ballina RFC/Connacht), Sarah McCormick (Ballina RFC/Connacht), Ruby Starrett (Larne RFC/Ulster), May Goulding (Hartpury College/IQ Rugby), Emily Foley (Ballina RFC/Connacht), Molly Boote (Connemara RFC/Connacht), Lyndsey Clarke (Ennis RFC/Munster), Hannah Clarke (Oughterard/Tuam RFC/Connacht).

IRELAND UNDER-18s 5 ENGLAND UNDER-18s 14, Wellington College
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Lily Morris
England: Tries: Connie Clarke, Amelia Williams; Cons: Ella Cromack

Early Irish errors allowed England to build some fast-paced attacking phases, with captain Sophie McQueen leading the charge. They put good width on the ball to release winger Connie Clarke for the right corner with just three minutes on the clock.

England had won their first two games on the opening day – beating Wales 10-0 and Scotland 21-0 – while also having a full warm-up match against the Welsh under their belts.

Their outside backs continued to look dangerous, and although a second crooked lineout robbed Ireland of a promising position, the forwards did sandwich in a drive that showed what a weapon their maul can be.

With Connacht’s Roisin Maher making an impact, Muldoon’s charges won a scrum against the head. Frustratingly, Ailish Quinn’s pass was ruled forward as Ennis winger Clarke missed out on a try-scoring chance.

Ireland were unable to profit from Hannah Clarke’s excellent 50:22 kick and a couple of penalties that followed, while England’s defence also held firm despite some neat link-up play between May Goulding and Lyndsey Clarke off a scrum.

A terrific burst from Connemara’s Molly Boote, off first-phase ball, also went unrewarded, as did Maher’s impressive offload, following an overthrown English lineout, which had flanker Gleeson threatening inside the opposition 22.

Instead, it was England who were able to double their lead in the 27th minute. Bridget Campbell and Ella Cromack injected pace from a tapped penalty, and a powerful carry from prop Amelia Williams got her over the whitewash.

It was very much a score against the run of play, but a key lesson for Ireland in converting pressure into points. They did deservedly open their account in the dying seconds, though.

Grainne Burke and lively runner Robyn O’Connor came off the bench to very good effect, and centre Linn was unfortunate to be pulled back for a high tackle on Finn just she accelerated towards the try-line.

England loosehead Williams saw yellow and the hosts continued to leak penalties inside their own 22, Buttimer and Ellen O’Toole chipping away with forceful carries before a determined Morris burrowed in under two defenders.

Team: Hannah Clarke (Oughterard/Tuam RFC/Connacht); Lyndsey Clarke (Ennis RFC/Munster), Molly Boote (Connemara RFC/Connacht), Lucia Linn (Loughborough University/IQ Rugby/Munster), Emily Foley (Ballina RFC/Connacht); Caitriona Finn (UL Bohemian RFC/Ballina-Killaloe RFC/Munster), May Goulding (Hartpury College/IQ Rugby); Lily Morris (Killarney RFC/Munster), Kelly Burke (Mullingar RFC/Leinster), Roisin Maher (Creggs RFC/Connacht), Alma Obehi Atagamen (Balbriggan RFC/Leinster), Sarah McCormick (Ballina RFC/Connacht), Poppy Garvey (Sligo RFC/Connacht), Saskia Wycherley (Bantry Bay RFC/Munster) (capt), Ailish Quinn (Ballina RFC/Connacht).

Replacements: Grainne Burke (Ennis RFC/Munster), Ellen O’Toole (Westport RFC/Connacht), Beth Buttimer (Fethard RFC/Munster), Beibhinn Gleeson (Oughterard/Tuam RFC/Connacht), Ruby Starrett (Larne RFC/Ulster), Orla Wafer (Enniscorthy RFC/Leinster), Robyn O’Connor (Wexford Wanderers RFC/Leinster), Grainne Moran (Ballina RFC/Connacht), Niamh Murphy (Cill Dara RFC/Leinster), Emma Brogan (Navan RFC/Leinster), Katie Corrigan (Tullow RFC/Leinster).