Portarlington V Tullow
19 – 8

On Saturday evening, Portarlington’s Senior Ladies travelled to Tullow to play the penultimate league game of the season. A bonus point win would give the ladies a home advantage in the league semi-final. For the first time this season, Port ladies played a 13-aside game, at the request of Tullow. Playing a little out of their comfort zone, the ladies took time to find their feet. Very early on in the game, Tullow were awarded a penalty in front of Portarlington’s posts which they chose to kick and scored putting Port behind 3-0.

Defence on the wings was very important in stopping Tullow’s main threat. Portarlington’s Rachel Murphy was doing a great job in neutralising this threat until she was caught at the bottom of a rook early on and was forced to retire due to injury. After struggling to get out of their half, Portarlington put on a big drive followed by fast movement from the backs, from which Orlaith Kiely emerged to score the first try of the match and put Portarlington ahead. A great line-out from Portarlington soon after gave the entire back line room to move the ball out and Orlaith ran in for another try which full-back Martina Russell converted. Tullow however, continued to make ground on the wings and caught Portarlington’s defence just short to run down the wing and score their first try. Port’s full back, Martina, and out-half, Orlaith, put excellent pressure on Tullow’s full-back by kicking over the top on numerous occasions and put Portarlington in a great position to counter-rook and win possession again. The final try of the game was scored near the end of the first-half, with Kim Dempsey charging forward with the ball, followed by her forward pack, sucking Tullow numbers into the rook and leaving room for the backs to pass the ball out to Leanne Fallon, who ran in for Portarlington’s third try. Martina Russell converted this for the second time. The first half ended with Portarlington ahead 19-8.

The second half was incredibly tough as both teams began to tire after what had been a very physical game. Portarlington remained determined to score the fourth try they needed but a good Tullow defence denied them this. The final whistle was blown at 19-8.

It was a very tough game for the forwards who had to work hard to win the ball from rooks which became rather messy in the wet conditions. However, when the forwards did win the ball, quick hands from the backs and strong runs from Sinead Lawlor and Tracey Fallon up the centre of the pitch gained a lot of ground for Portarlington. Wrapping girls up in the tackles, Tracey Fallon and Orlaith Kiely forced turn over and penalty ball on more than one occasion. Great work again by Portarlington’s full-back Martin Russell who cleanly gathered up any ball which came over Portarlington’s line. Player of the match was awarded to Orlaith Kiely who used her speed and strength to break through Tullow’s line on numerous occasions.

Portarlington’s Ladies will play Clondalkin away on Sunday next, the result of which will determine whether they gain the vital home advantage in the semi-final of the league. Portarlington celebrated by taking a photo with Leinster and Ireland’s Sean O’Brien, a member of Tullow Rugby Club, who attended the game.