Leinster Women set up Championship decider with Munster
December 10, 2016 9:32 pm Site Editor
Leinster can reclaim the Women’s Interprovincial Championship with victory over Munster in a winner-takes-all contest back at Donnybrook next Saturday afternoon.
It won’t come easy as the southern province made it two out of two against Connacht (12-8) earlier on Saturday afternoon.
This meant Leinster had to beat Ulster under the floodlights at Donnybrook to orchestrate the showdown.
The home side started out like they meant business when hooker Jennie Finlay and number eight Paula Fitzpatrick made major dents and their scrum churned out a penalty.
A knock-on from prop Joanna McMahon put Ulster on the ball for their out-half Jemma Jackson to use her left boot to gain ground.
Leinster’s Eimear Corri came off the wing looking for work, a fumble enabling Ulster full-back Nikki Caughey to break away before her opposite number Kim Flood dragged her down.
The visitors worked a nice opening down the right where Caughey was nailed in the tackle by left wing Katie Fitzhenry.
Ulster were denied a breakthrough try shortly after when prop Ilse van Staden was called back for crossing.
Another big hit from Fitzhenry got Leinster moving. Flanker Carmela Morey took the ball up and a raid down the right was almost finished by Corri, but for a foot in touch.
The opening points did arrive from centre Jenny Murphy in the 19th minute when scrum-half Ailsa Hughes was taken out at a ruck.
Leinster wasted no time in building on that when they moved the ball with accurate passing from deep for full-back Kim Flood to put Fitzhenry over on the left.
Murphy was on the mark from the conversion to make it 10-0 in the 25th minute.
Fitzhenry had to be alert again when scrum-half Kathryn Dane sniped the short side.
The sure hands of tight-head McMahon secured lineout ball and scrum-half Hughes spotted a gap and had the strength to stay on her feet to beat the defence from 40 metres out, Murphy’s two making at 17-0 at the break.
Coach Adam Griggs must have mentioned how the four-try bonus-point would put Leinster in a strong position.
They came out of the blocks well for Fitzhenry to threaten again down the left until denied by the bravery of Caughey.
A lack of patience and two crucial turnovers by Ulster prevented further damage.
It took centre Michelle Claffey’s strength in contact to provide the go-forward and nice handling put Fitzhenry away on the left for the third try in the 50th minute.
Ulster were not lying down, centre Claire McLaughlin hitting it up the middle.
Their problem came, not in making an attack, but in keeping it going as full-back Caughey carried well without the cohesion to make it count.
Still, Ulster drove forward to set-up a Leinster scrum no more than 10 metres out.
It was from here centre Claffey engineered a counter for prop Lindsay Peat and captain Morey to combine brilliantly for a monster gain.
A penalty ensued. Full-back Flood found the corner and the pack did the rest from a maul for Fitzpatrick to touch down for the bonus-point at 27-0 just past the hour.
The pressure valve was released and Leinster flowed forward for Fitzpatrick to grab her second try, Murphy converting.
It didn’t end there as Tyrrell twisted her way to the line for Murphy’s extras before replacement Niamh Byrne closed the show with the seventh in the last minute.
Leinster Women face Munster Women next Saturday in Donnybrook Stadium (KO 2.30pm) for the Women’s Interprovincial Championship. Supporters can pay on the gate (€5 for adults, kids go free).
At Donnybrook – LEINSTER 46 (K Fitzhenry, P Fitzpatrick 2 tries each; A Hughes, H Tyrrell, N Byrne try each; J Murphy pen, 4 cons); ULSTER 0.
15. Kim Flood
14. Eimear Corri / Niamh Byrne 72 mins
13. Jenny Murphy
12. Michelle Claffey
11. Katie Fitzhenry / Meaghan Kenny 72 mins
10. Hannah Tyrrell
9. Alisa Hughes / Niamh Griffin 65 mins
1. Lindsay Peat / Caoimhe Molloy 72 mins
2. Jennie Finlay / Cliodhna Maloney 50 mins
3. Joanna McMahon / Fiona O’Brien 56 mins
4. Marie-Louise O’Reilly
5. Susan Fogarty
6. Ciara Cooney / Juliet Short 50 mins
7. Carmela Morey (Capt) / Katie Norris 61 mins
8. Paula Fitzpatrick.
15. Nikki Caughey / Maeve Liston 68 mins
14. Emma Jordan
13. Peita McAlister / Brittany Hogan 66 mins
12. Claire McLaughlin
11. Amy Davis / Leak McGoldrick 53 mins
10. Jemma Jackson
9. Kathryn Dane
1. Ilse Van Staden / Shauna Martin 50 mins
2. Lesley Megarity / Beth Cregan 36 mins
3. Sorcha Mac Laimhin / Brigid Collins 45 mins
4. Naomi McCullagh / Aisling O’Connell 68 mins
5. Storm Cobain / Hannah Beattie 50 mins
6. Gemma McCutcheon (Capt)
7. Ashleigh Baxter
8. Lauren Maginnes
Referee: Helen O’Reilly, IRFU.