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Vodafone Women’s Interpros: Round 2 – Leinster v Ulster Preview

Vodafone Women’s Interpros: Round 2 – Leinster v Ulster Preview

The Leinster team huddle together before their opening Vodafone Women's Interprovincial Championship game against Connacht in Galway ©SPORTSFILE/Ramsey Cardy

Bouncing back to winning ways is the aim for both Leinster and Ulster as they go head-to-head in the second round of the Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship.


Saturday, August 19 –

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LEINSTER (3rd) v ULSTER (4th), Energia Park, 1pm (live on TG4/BBC iPlayer)

Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship Form: Leinster: L; Ulster: L
Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship Top Scorers – Leinster: Points: Eimear Corri, Sene Taiti-Fanene, Naoise O’Reilly 5 each; Tries: Eimear Corri, Sene Taiti-Fanene, Naoise O’Reilly 1 each; Ulster: Points: Ella Durkan 9; Tries: Ella Durkan 1

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Leinster head coach Tania Rosser has tinkered with her back-line for Saturday‘s must-win encounter with Ulster. Ireland internationals Natasja Behan and Leah Tarpey will both make their senior provincial debuts.

Tarpey pairs up with fellow midlander Aoife Dalton in the centre for Leinster’s first competitive game at Energia Park since early January. Behan and Railway Union regular Aimee Clarke combine with Clare Gorman in the back-three.

With Dannah O’Brien benched on this occasion, experienced out-half Nikki Caughey takes the reins at number 10. Lisa Callan gets the nod at hooker in the only change to the Blues’ pack.

Rosser’s forward options off the bench are significantly strengthened by the presence of Ireland star Linda Djougang, who was last involved in the Interpros in 2019, and Railway’s Emma Murphy. Kildare youngster Emma Tilly is another new cap waiting in the wings.

“We produced a better performance in the second half against Connacht, but still not clinical enough to get the result,” admitted Rosser. “It was really disappointing but we’ve moved on quickly, especially with such a tight turnaround.

“We’ve looked at our game management and execution and tidied them up for this week. We’re looking forward to getting back out at Energia Park and playing in front of the home crowd.”

With a number of her Blackrock College club-mates in the Leinster line-up and memories of winning the Energia All-Ireland League title at the Donnybrook venue still fresh, Ulster’s Ella Durkan is keen to make her mark on this second round tie.

The scorer of her province’s opening try against Munster, Durkan makes the switch from centre to full-back. It is up front where head coach Murray Houston has had to alter things, with Sadhbh McGrath and Fiona Tuite, two of their best performers in Armagh, both on the injury list.

Aishling O’Connell and Ireland Under-20 international India Daley are brought into the pack, with Sophie Barrett switching to blindside flanker in the injury-enforced absence of Chloe Donnan. Taryn Schutzler starts in the engine room.

Malone’s Peita McAlister is the only personnel change in the back-line, while some reshuffling of positions sees Maeve Liston moved to the left wing. Durkan, the former Down Ladies footballer, is hoping Ulster can build on the best aspects of last week’s two-try display.

“There is such a short turn around between the matches, so you have to learn from your mistakes and get yourself ready for the next test. We’ve done the work so the girls are looking forward to putting that out on the pitch,” she said.

“I’ve played against Leinster a number of times and I play my club rugby in Leinster so we are familiar with them. They have a talented squad, like us they have a mixture of youth and experience but we need to focus on ourselves and play out our game-plan. No doubt both teams will be up for the match.”

The strong-kicking 25-year-old added: “We’ve a lot more to show in attack, we didn’t get many opportunities in open play last Saturday so I’m looking forward to those chances in the games to come.

“There are so many really talented players in our back-line and I hope the girls get the chance to show that. We’ve worked a lot on building good relationships so the girls can confidently play off each other.”

The senior match will be followed by the Under-18 Girls Interprovincial Championship opener between Leinster and Ulster. Kick-off is at 3pm.

LEINSTER: Natasja Behan; Aimee Clarke, Aoife Dalton, Leah Tarpey, Clare Gorman; Nikki Caughey, Katie Whelan; Aoife Moore, Lisa Callan, Christy Haney, Ruth Campbell, Eimear Corri, Aoife Wafer, Molly Boyne, Hannah O’Connor (capt).

Replacements: Linda Djougang, Caoimhe Molloy, Jess Keating, Emma Murphy, Emma Tilly, Ailsa Hughes, Dannah O’Brien, Elise O’Byrne-White.

ULSTER: Ella Durkan; Niamh Marley, Kelly McCormill, Peita McAllister, Maeve Liston; Abby Moyles, Laura Cairns; Gemma McCamley, Beth Cregan (capt), Aishling O’Connell, Keelin Brady, Taryn Schutzler, Sophie Barrett, Maebh Clenaghan, India Daley.

Replacements: Sarah Roberts, Megan Simpson, Megan Brodie, Stacey Sloan, Rachael McIlroy, Megan Edwards, Emma Jordan, Ava Fannin, Toni MacCartney.