Preview: Leinster U-18 Women face Munster for Interpro title
September 10, 2021 12:27 pm Site Editor
Leinster Rugby stand on the brink of winning the U-18 Women’s Interprovincial Series at MU Barnhall RFC on Saturday afternoon (KO 3.15pm).
Michael Bolger’s brilliant squad posted 78 points without the concession of a single score in beating Connacht (24-0) and Ulster (54-0) in the opening two rounds.
The most striking aspect of their play is the eagerness to move the ball into space, reflected in 10 of their 11 tries coming from the back division.
The reason wing Alanna Fitzpatrick and scrum-half Katie Whelan have each picked up three tries in two matches has much to do with the front-foot ball delivered by a direct, hard-working pack of forwards.
The support lines of No 8 Erin King, offloading of Leah Tarpey and all-round excellence of captain Aoife Wafer in behind the strong set-piece application of the front row has enabled half-backs Whelan and Dannah O’Brien to run the show.
The footballing skills of out-half O’Brien are backed up by solid playmaking decisions and the calmness to draw in defenders and put runners away. In addition, O’Brien kicks the ball with precision and power. It is just as well as back-up 10 Abby Moyles was equally impressive from placed balls in her cameo against Ulster.
Certainly, it was noticeable how the standard of play did not seem to suffer when Leinster went to their bench, a sign of how deep the squad appears to be.
Leinster shows just one change from last week, Eva Sterrit coming in to start on the wing, Emma Tilly switching to full-back for Ciara Boland.
The Munster teenagers pushed Connacht to the wire in a 7-5 loss that could have gone either way last week.
The set-piece scrum and lineout are bedrocks to Munster’s game plan, captain Shauna Maher locking down at tighthead and Saskia Wycherley, sister to Fineen and Josh, the main target at the lineout.
The back row, led by Anna-Kate Cournane, is a scrappy unit, just as combative in the open field as it is in the close exchanges.
Out-half Kate Flannery is quick to put boot-to-ball, sending her energetic chasers in pursuit, Munster’s main ball in hand threat coming from full-back Ellen Boylan.
For all that, Leinster have looked powerful, improving from Connacht to Ulster to go into this encounter as favourites.
Leinster Rugby U-18 Women v Munster Rugby:
15. Emma Tilly (MU Barnhall RFC)
14. Eva Sterrit (Greystones RFC)
13. Victoria Elmes-Kinlan (Wicklow RFC)
12. Aoife Dalton (Tullamore RFC)
11. Alanna Fitzpatrick (Portarlington RFC)
10. Dannah O’Brien (Tullow RFC)
9. Katie Whelan (Enniscorthy RFC)
1. Hannah Wilson (Cill Dara RFC)
2. Sarah Delaney (Cill Dara RFC)
3. Meabh Keegan (Clontarf FC)
4. Koren Dunne (Portlaoise RFC)
5. Leah Tarpey (Tullamore RFC)
6. Eadaoin Murtagh (Cill Dara RFC)
7. Aoife Wafer (Enniscorthy RFC) CAPTAIN
8. Erin King (Old Belvedere RFC)
16. Anna Brennock (Old Belvedere RFC)
17. Isobel Clark (Mullingar RFC)
18. Leah Murphy (Wicklow RFC)
19. Ruth Campbell (Naas RFC)
20. Amy O’Mahony (Greystones RFC)
21. Jade Gaffney (Navan RFC)
22. Abby Moyles (Navan RFC)
23. Mia Kelly (Enniscorthy RFC)