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Never-Say-Die Wolfhounds Fight Back For Gripping Draw With Edinburgh

Never-Say-Die Wolfhounds Fight Back For Gripping Draw With Edinburgh

Christy Haney, one of the Wolfhounds' try scorers, is pictured throwing a pass to fellow prop Aoife Moore during their thrilling eight-try play-off match against Edinburgh ©Simon Wootton/SNS Group

The Wolfhounds stunned Edinburgh with two late tries to earn a 26-all draw at the Hive Stadium, as they took a big step towards winning the Celtic Challenge competition.


Saturday, February 17 –

Scorers: Edinburgh: Tries: Emma Orr 2, Cieron Bell, Alex Stewart; Cons: Nicole Marlow 3
Wolfhounds: Tries: Ellen Boylan, Christy Haney, Linda Djougang, Katie Corrigan; Cons: Nikki Caughey 3
HT: Edinburgh 12 Wolfhounds 12

The Wolfhounds’ five-match unbeaten record this season was under serious threat when tries from Cieron Bell and Alex Stewart moved Edinburgh into a 26-12 lead, just past the hour mark.

If the scoreboard had stayed the same, the Scottish side would have gone a point clear at the top of the table. Instead, the Wolfhounds mounted a stirring late fight-back to remain four points clear at the summit.

Replacement Linda Djougang reached over in the 77th minute, and teenage winger Katie Corrigan had the legs on the home defence to run in an excellent 80th-minute leveller which Nikki Caughey converted for a share of the spoils.

The first half of this opening play-off fixture had ended all square at 12-all, with well-taken scores from Ellen Boylan and Christy Haney sandwiching a brace from Scotland centre Emma Orr.

Corrigan’s ninth try of the campaign means Neill Alcorn’s charges could be crowned champions on home soil next Saturday when they face the Clovers at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 4.30pm – live on RugbyPass TV). Tickets are available to buy here.

Caughey’s right boot quickly drew the Wolfhounds into Edinburgh territory, and it was her skip pass that put Boylan over in the left corner in the fifth minute, following an initial break by the winger and strong carrying from the forwards.

Second-placed Edinburgh hit back swiftly to make it five points apiece, with Orr’s clever line onto a Sarah Denholm pass seeing her weave through from 40 metres out, handing off Boylan to make it over to the right of the posts.

Grace Moore and Hannah O’Connor brought the physical impact with some bone-crunching tackles, the latter forcing a midfield knock-on. Jade Gaffney also did well to tidy up a partially-blocked kick from her half-back partner Caughey.

Some nice offloading from O’Connor and fellow lock Eimear Corri sparked one of the Wolfhounds’ best attacks, midway through the first half. A scrum penalty drew them closer but a Corrigan try was ruled out for a forward pass from Heffernan.

The visitors came hunting again, industrious centre Tarpey being tackled 10 metres short after captain Molly Boyne’s well-earned turnover penalty. A knock-on thwarted them though, and then a Corri lineout steal was cancelled out by a Freya Walker turnover.

A Briar McNamara-inspired attack suddenly had Edinburgh hunting down the lead try, and they got it when skipper Denholm’s nicely-delayed pass put Orr in under the posts. Marlow’s conversion made it 12-5, just under 10 minutes before half-time.

The Wolfhounds fought hard for turnovers in response, with Tarpey forcing a penalty and the forwards’ counter-rucking regaining possession on the ground. O’Connor kept the table toppers playing in the right areas with a lineout steal.

They struck for the levelling try just before the interval, as number 8 Moore used a scrum penalty to barge up close to the posts, and then prop Haney drove over in determined fashion, with support from Claire Boles. Caughey added the extras from the tee.

However, Edinburgh edged back in front only two-and-a-half minutes after the restart. Orr won turnover ball, and her centre partner McNamara carved through on the left wing before sending Bell away from Corrigan to establish a 19-12 lead.

Edinburgh’s confidence was high and they continued to threaten out wide, but Moore and the newly-introduced Djougang gained turnovers to break up their momentum. It was a bustling carry from Djougang that brought her team back into the opposition 22.

Crucially though, Haney was held up as Poppy Fletcher and Adelle Ferrie denied her a second try. Edinburgh flooded forward in response, and Corrigan had to scramble back to bring down Bell just five metres out from the Wolfhounds’ whitewash.

The Scots kept the pressure on, going through the phases and picking up a penalty before vice-captain Stewart burrowed over despite Djougang’s attempts to hold her up. Marlow’s conversion gave the home side a hard-earned 14-point cushion.

Ulster’s India Daley came off the bench to good effect, winning a turnover and making metres inside Edinburgh’s 22 but just lacking timely support. Boyne also lifted her troops with a penalty at the breakdown, but time was not on their side.

Neither team could get a grip on proceedings, but an Edinburgh knock-on allowed Tarpey to breach the opposition 22 again. Moore and replacements Fiona Tuite and Sophie Barrett added serious power to the attack, and Djougang picked from a close-in ruck to ground the ball successfully.

Caughey’s drop-kicked conversion brought it back to a seven-point deficit, but the Wolfhounds wanted more. Heffernan and Ava Ryder spearheaded a break on the right, the latter linking with Corrigan who brilliantly sidestepped past McNamara to raid in behind the posts.

With the young speedster having made the conversion much easier, Caughey duly split the posts to complete a fantastic comeback from the Wolfhounds, who were rewarded for digging deep and staying in the fight when it looked like the Scots had done enough.

TIME LINE: 5 minutes – Wolfhounds try: Ellen Boylan – 0-5; conversion: missed by Nikki Caughey – 0-5; 8 mins – Edinburgh try: Emma Orr – 5-5; conversion: missed by Nicole Marlow – 5-5; 31 mins – Edinburgh try: Emma Orr – 10-5; conversion: Nicole Marlow – 12-5; 39 mins – Wolfhounds try: Christy Haney; conversion: Nikki Caughey – 12-12; Half-time – Edinburgh 12 Wolfhounds 12; 43 mins – Edinburgh try: Cieron Bell – 17-12; conversion: Nicole Marlow – 19-12; 61 mins – Edinburgh try: Alex Stewart – 24-12; conversion: Nicole Marlow – 26-12; 77 mins – Wolfhounds try: Linda Djougang – 26-17; conversion: Nikki Caughey – 26-19; 80 mins – Wolfhounds try: Katie Corrigan – 26-24; conversion: Nikki Caughey – 26-26; Full-time – Edinburgh 26 Wolfhounds 26

EDINBURGH: Nicole Marlow (Cardiff Met); Nicole Flynn (University of Edinburgh), Emma Orr (Heriot’s/Biggar RFC), Briar McNamara (Watsonian FC), Cieron Bell (University of Edinburgh); Sarah Denholm (University of Edinburgh) (capt), Jenny Maxwell (Loughborough Lightning); Panashe Muzambe (Exeter Chiefs), Millie Whitehouse (University of Edinburgh), Katie Lindsay (Corstorphine Cougars), Fiona McIntosh (Saracens), Adelle Ferrie (Corstorphine Cougars), Merryn Gunderson (Corstorphine Cougars), Alex Stewart (Corstorphine Cougars), Freya Walker (Watsonian FC).

Replacements: Aila Ronald (University of Edinburgh), Poppy Fletcher (University of Edinburgh), Molly Poolman (Watsonian FC), Nathasha Logan (University of Edinburgh), Gemma Bell (Hartpury University), Zoe Turner (Corstorphine Cougars), Hannah Ramsay (Corstorphine Cougars), Rhona Lloyd (GB Sevens).

WOLFHOUNDS: Ava Ryder (Railway Union RFC/Connacht); Katie Corrigan  (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster), Leah Tarpey (Railway Union RFC/Leinster), Katie Heffernan (Railway Union RFC/Leinster), Ellen Boylan (Blackrock College RFC/Munster); Nikki Caughey (Railway Union RFC/Leinster), Jade Gaffney (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster); Aoife Moore (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster), Maebh Clenaghan (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster), Christy Haney (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster), Eimear Corri (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster), Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster), Claire Boles (Railway Union RFC/Ulster), Molly Boyne (Railway Union RFC/Leinster) (capt), Grace Moore (Saracens/IQ Rugby).

Replacements: India Daley (Blackrock College RFC/Ulster), Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster), Sophie Barrett (Enniskillen RFC/Railway Union RFC/Ulster), Fiona Tuite (Old Belvedere RFC/Ulster), Keelin Brady (Railway Union RFC/Ulster), Katie Whelan (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster), Abby Moyles (Blackrock College RFC/Ulster), Kelly McCormill (Cooke RFC/Ulster).

Referee: David Young (SRU)