City of Derry hosted the first Womens Rugby Inter Provincial Championship game to be played at their Judges Road Grounds on Saturday last. Leinster ladies completed outclassed their northern opponents in every facet of the game and in the process played some scintillating rugby that did credit to the sport. Their handling, running, set piece play and structured moves would have put many men’s teams in their shadow. Leinster came into the game on the back of two victories against Munster and Connacht whereby Ulster had suffered a heavy defeat against Munster and were beaten narrowly by Connacht.
City of Derry Womens Team were well represented in the Ulster Squad with ten players that included the Captain and No 8 Diane Nixon. Leinster showed their intent early with well organised driving mauls from line outs that Ulster found hard to counter. With ten minutes gone quick ruck ball had the excellent Leinster Scrum half Tania Rosser pulling the strings and the ball was moves quickly along the backs for centre Amy Davis to score a try from a well worked move, Nora Stapelton added the conversion for a seven point lead.
Ulster got a foothold in the game and Diane Nixon lead by example she tackled and carried well and covered a lot of ground, she was ably supported by Grainne Crabtree and Lizzie Ballantine. It took Leinster twenty minutes to score their next try and it came from a scrum Rosser moved the ball along the back line and full back Jackie Shields came into the line to score a try wide out. This was followed by a try from a great break by out half Shannon Houston which Stapelton converted.
Leinster scored another two trys before half time the first came from the star of the game Leinster No 8 Orla Brennan cousin of former Irish International Trevor Brennan. Brennan’s try came from a five meter scrum and Stapelton converted. The final try of the half came with the last play, winger Gill Nolan showed her blistering pace to get on the end of a great back move with Stapelton adding the extras for a thirty three point lead at half time.
The game was over as a contest at half time but Ulster to their credit raised their game and good tackling by their backs Eliza Downey, Alana McCaffrey and Harriet Gibson snuffed out any promising Leinster moves. Laura Day came more into the game and had many good carries of the ball and with Diane Nixon the best Ulster player on the pitch, Leinster were frustrated for a long period.
Finally Ulster ran out of steam and Leinster upped their game and Orla Brennan scored a try in the corner and then the move of the game saw Nora Stapelton score wide out. The final score of the game came from the ubiquitous Orla Brennan who completed her hat trick with another try in the corner for a convincing 48pts to Nil victory.
Leinster Coach Philip Doyle said after the game “I was delighted with our performance today and I thought our backs were exceptional, their handling and movement were a product of the hard work they have put in. We now look forward to a rematch in Donnybrook on Sunday week against Munster when we hope to avenge our narrow loss 9pts to 6ptts in desperate conditions in Crosshaven earlier in the campaign”. Ulster plays Connacht also in Donnybrook on Sunday week prior to the Munster V Leinster game in their final match of the season.