The class of Ireland captain Niamh Briggs was the difference between these great rivals as Munster retained the Women’s Inter-provincial Championship at Thomond Park on Saturday. Final score Munster 15, Leinster 7.

These two had taken it turn to take the title in the first four years of the competition. Leinster were due the honours this year. But, they could never get in front to force the issue.
There were a lot of mistakes early on as the feeling out process featured Ireland internationals Heather O’Brien from Munster and Paula Fitzpatrick bouncing off each other.
Munster used big runners, like O’Brien, to come around the corner and off the shoulder of out-half Briggs in a low risk approach that tested Leinster’s discipline.
The penalties came and Briggs pinned Leinster back. They made a trademark statement when a powerful maul took them close enough to the whitewash for tight-head Leah Lyons to grab her third try in two matches with Briggs adding the conversion.

Leinster found it difficult to establish any real dominance up front until well into the second quarter when nice movement created the space for full-back Jeamie Deacon to find the line.
Ireland fly-half Nora Stapleton made the unlikely conversion from near the touchline to ensure it would be 7-all at the break.
The visitors had a second chance to make a first impression. They couldn’t do it. The Munster stranglehold was suffocating with the front row of Fiona Reidy, Amy Desmond and Lyons to the fore.   
The Ladies in Red were able to edge the territory game and Briggs shot a penalty in the third quarter.
The next score would be crucial.
Munster moved into overdrive. They could have had a try or two. It was left to Briggs to provide the finishing touch to a 62nd minute try which she was unable to convert. 
Despite this, Leinster were two scores down with time running out and tries difficult to come by. Try as they did, they couldn’t break through an unyielding defence.

We tried hard. We showed character to fight back,” said Leinster coach Robert Forbes.    
We just didn’t have what we needed on the day. We weren’t able to give a full account of ourselves. It is a disappointing way to end the Interpros.”
At Thomond ParkMUNSTER 15 (N Briggs try, pen, con; L Lyons try); LEINSTER 7 (J Deacon try; N Stapleton con).
15. Valerie Power (Shannon) 14. Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (Highfield) / Edel Murphy (UL Bohs) 13. Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohs) 12. Nicola Scully (Highfield) 11. Laura O’Mahony (Tralee) 10. Niamh Briggs (UL Bohs, Capt) 9. Ellen Murphy (Highfield) 1. Fiona Reidy (UL Bohs) 2. Amy Desmond (Highfield) / Zoe Grattagh (Highfield) 3. Leah Lyons (Highfield) 4. Róisín Ormond (Highfield) /  Maura Collins (Abbeyfeale) 5. Elaine Anthony (Highfield) / Gerda Coyne (Highfield) 6. Siobhan Fleming (Tralee) 7. Ciara Griffin (Tralee) 8. Heather O’Brien (Highfield).
15. Jeamie Deacon (Blackrock) 14. Jane Daly-Morrissey (Old Belvedere) / Sara Phelan (Clondalkin) 57 mins. 13. Elise O’Byrne-White (Old Belvedere) 12. Aine Donnelly (Port Dara) 11. Amy Cotter (Suttonians) / Meabh O’Brien (Naas RFC) 10. Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere) 9. Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union) 1. Fiona O’Brien (Old Belvedere) / Karla Dunne (Blackrock) 78 mins 2. Sharon Lynch (Old Belvedere) 3. Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere, Capt) 4. Ciara Cooney (Railway Union) / Mairead Holohan (Blackrock) – temp 5. Orla Fitzsimons (St Mary’s) 69 mins. 6. Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere) / Susan Fogarty (Railway Union) 7. Jennie Finlay (Railway Union) / Ann Marie Rooney (St Mary’s) 8. Paula Fitzpatrick (St Mary’s).