Match report: Leinster Rugby 38 Connacht Rugby 10
Match report: Leinster Rugby 38 Connacht Rugby 10
January 7, 2023 / Des Berry
Jenny Murphy picked up a pair of tries in Leinster’s comfortable win over Connacht in the Vodafone Interprovincial Championship at Energia Park on Saturday afternoon.
Coach Tania Rosser began her reign with five new caps starting and another four on the bench.
It had been well over a year since the provinces had engaged. This was reflected in the opening skirmishes as nerves took hold.
There was a settling period as both struggled to knit the phases together, mistakes punctuating the early minutes.
A powerful Leinster scrum was the basis for a penalty that moved them into the right area.
From another solid scrum, the ball was whipped left for wing Anna Doyle to almost get around Mairead Coyne.
Then, the Leinster scrum forced a turnover for Ali Coleman to go close before scrum-half Ailsa Hughes lost the ball in the act of scoring.
Connacht were able to use this massive let-off to move out of danger from Nicole Fowley’s kick and lock Fiona Scally secured a penalty on the floor to maintain their momentum.
However, Dannah O’Brien’s boot, the scrum dominance and a burst from left-wing Doyle threatened to open up the Westerners.
Coleman benefitted from accurate passing to test Ava Ryder’s defence near the left corner, the flanker twisting her knee in the process to force her withdrawal, Aoife Moore coming on for her debut.
Full-back Ella Roberts set Clare Gorman away up the right tramline until Coyne gambled to complete an interception.
Once again, the scrum pummeled Connacht. Hughes snapped up the ball. Hannah O’Connor broke forward and wing Gorman was stopped short by Ryder in the 24th minute.
Leinster were taking control without taking the points, Connacht’s Fowley clearing her lines and the lineout forcing a knock-on.
Connacht were limited to going from deep, Doyle meeting Ryder on the touchline. The weight of pressure had to tell.
Finally, the footwork of Niamh O’Dowd and Aoife McDermott was superseded by a mazy run from O’Brien, the recycle allowing Ella Roberts to cut through for the try, converted by O’Brien in the 35th minute.
Centre Aoife Dalton’s muscular poach on the floor sparked a counterattack in which Hughes went blind and the speed of Doyle’s angle onto the ball was too much for Connacht, O’Brien doubling the advantage from the conversion in the 38th minute.
Connacht needed a reprieve, finding it from the restart when out-half Fowley nailed a penalty for 14-3 at the break.
The signs were good for Leinster as the scrum continued to dominate, Hughes made 30 metres and McDermott snatched a lineout against the throw.
A textbook body position by Emma Fabby gave Fowley a chance to strike from 40 metres, the penalty just falling short.
A hard charge and soft offload from O’Connor, Eimear Corri’s support line and Christy Haney’s carry gave a glimpse of Leinster’s continuity.
A deft chip over the top by O’Brien was smartly taken by replacement Elise O’Byrne-Whyte for a fine try.
It was then Leinster turned on the jets at the maul to eat up the ground. They used the same vehicle again to take play right up to the line where Jenny Murphy twisted over for the touchdown, O’Brien converting for 26-3 in the 56th minute.
Leinster had to be vigilant to prevent Coyne from striking back from Clara Barrett’s break and Barrett was soon back on the ball to ask more questions.
The pick-and-go worked a treat for Connacht, out-half Folwey spotting the space Orla Dixon filled for a superb try, Fowley converting from wide on the left in the 68th minute.
A tumbling kick by Murphy, another serious scrum and Molly Scuffil-McCabe’s speed from a tap penalty put Leinster in business, a good decision from number eight O’Connor making room for the backs to feed Kate Whelan for the fifth try in the 76th minute.
The Blues saved the best for last as O’Connor started what Murphy finished with her second try for O’Connor to convert at the final whistle.
LEINSTER – J Murphy 2 tries; E Roberts, A Doyle, E O’Byrne-Whyte, K Whelan try each; D O’Brien 3 cons; H O’Connor con.
CONNACHT – O Dixon try; N Fowley pen, con.
15. Ella Roberts (Wicklow RFC) / Katie Whelan (Enniscorthy RFC/Old Belvedere RFC) 74 mins
14. Clare Gorman (Old Belvedere RFC) / Elise O’Byrne-Whyte (DUFC/Old Belvedere RFC) 47 mins
13. Aoife Dalton (Tullamore RFC/Old Belvedere RFC)
12. Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere RFC)
11. Anna Doyle (Tullow RFC/Blackrock College RFC)
10. Dannah O’Brien (Tullow RFC/Old Belvedere RFC) / Lisa Mullen (Virginia RFC/Blackrock College RFC) 61 mins
9. Ailsa Hughes (Tullamore RFC/Railway Union RFC) / Molly Scuffil-McCabe (Garda Westmanstown RFC/Railway Union RFC) 47 mins
1. Niamh O’Dowd (Old Belvedere RFC)
2. Jess Keating (Old Belvedere RFC) / Lisa Callan (Railway Union RFC) 69 mins
3. Christy Haney (St Mary’s College RFC/Blackrock College RFC, CO-CAPTAIN) / Megan Collis (Greystones RFC/Railway Union RFC) 69 mins
4. Aoife McDermott (Railway Union RFC)
5. Eimear Corri (Portlaoise RFC/Blackrock College RFC) / Elaine Anthony (Old Belvedere RFC) 61 mins
6. Ali Coleman (Blackrock College RFC) / Aoife Moore (Blackrock College RFC) 15 mins
7. Molly Boyne (DUFC/Railway Union RFC)
8. Hannah O’Connor (CYM RFC/Blackrock College RFC, CO-CAPTAIN).
15. Mairead Coyne / Eabha Nic Dhonnacha 61 mins
14. Ava Ryder
13. Orla Dixon
12. Shannon Touhey / Clara Barrett 55 mins
11. Laoise McGonagle
10. Nicole Fowley
9. Mary Healy (Capt) / Olivia Haverty 61 mins
1. Grainne O’Loughlin /Niamh O’Grady 50 mins
2. Elizabeth McNicholas / Lily Brad 50 mins
3. Laura Feely / Hannah Coen 61 mins
4. Fiona Scally
5. Eva McCormack / Sonia McDermott 55 mins
6. Grace Browne Moran
7. Emma Fabby
8. Lisa-Marie Murphy / Orla Fenton 61 mins.