Women: Ulster Women’s Finals – Report and Pictures.
It was a feast of rugby on Sunday afternoon as the Ulster Women’s Cup competitions reached their climax.
With the teams competing in the Pool stages over the last six weeks the newly introduced Finals Day consisted off The Rosie Stewart Cup Final plus three positional play off matches.
The afternoon events kicked off with Carrick taking on Cavan for seventh place, with the Co Cavan girls coming out on top by 24 – 0.
Cavan applied early pressure touching down for an unconverted try in the opening minutes after a strong forward drive. Carrick regrouped and worked their way up-field looking for a try of their own but the Cavan pack began to get on top and with astute kicking from the Cavan 10 it wasn’t long until the East Antrim girls found themselves pinned back in their own half.
The pressure eventually told and Cavan went over for their second score, this time converted, to lead 12 – 0 after twenty minutes.
Again Carrick worked their way up-field and were unlucky not to get on the scoreboard before half time keeping Cavan under the cosh in their own half. However a decisive break was finished off over the try line for Cavan to give them a comfortable 17 – 0 lead at half time.
The second half was played largely in the middle of the park as both teams struggled to get on top, the only score of the second period coming from Cavan, with a converted try to take 7th Place 24 – 0. Caroline O’Reilly, Jackie O’Halloran, Deirdre O’Reilly and Catherine McCollum were the try scorers for Co Cavan RFC.
The fifth place play off featured a highly entertaining match between Queens University and Sligo with Queens coming out on top 49 – 7 scoring nine tries in the process, though the final score doesn’t accurately reflect Sligo’s efforts against a well drilled University side.
Queen’s tries came from Betsy Bissonnette, who completed a second half hat trick after joining Cathy Craig and Melissa Zener with first half scores. Imogen Porter, Catherine Mallon, Aoife Walsh, Marianne Qvistgaard Hansen all crossed the line in a feast of running rugby as Queens dominated the second half after turning round 15 – 7 at the break.
Sligo, who have been rebuilding this season in the Connacht Development League contributed much to the game and can count themselves unfortunate to come up against a student side just hitting their straps!
Third place play off was between Belfast Harlequins and City of Derry. Quins were able to field Nikki Caughey and likewise Derry were able to field Stacey Lee Kennedy as both had been released by Irish management to get some game time. The inclusion of these two was sure to add a little extra to this encounter and it did not disappoint.
Quins took the game to their opponents from the start with Caughey and Zoe Templeton to the fore and it was the latter who opened the scoring. Derry struck back with a powerful driving maul which Kennedy was in control of, once it neared the line she broke from the maul and there was no stopping the Irish international. Quins Jen Goodall crossed for their second score but Derry hit back before the half time break to leave the score 10 – 10.
From the restart it was all Derry and they raced into a 18 – 10 lead, this opened the game up a little and it played into the hands of the young Quins back line as time and time again they opened the Derry defence. But for the work of Kelly Holmes and the effervescent Kennedy, the Deramore ladies could have ran in a number of tries.
Quins did manage to take two of their opportunities with Alanagh Chipperfield and Zoe Templeton both crossing for tries, one of which was converted to leave the score at 22 – 18 going into the final 5 mins.
The Derry girls pushed for the winning score in the dying minutes, but a combination of great defence from Quins and poor handling from Derry’s outside backs meant the game ended 22 – 18 to Harlequins.
The Rosie Stewart Cup Final featured established AIL D1 side Cooke ladies against up and coming Enniskillen from AILD2, with both sides unbeaten from the pool stages.
The game kicked off in bright sunshine and Enniskillen applied the early pressure keeping Cooke defending deep in their own half for the first ten minutes. The experienced Cooke side soaked up the early pressure and were relieved only to concede three points through the boot of Noreen Nethercott.
Cooke were able to eventually break the siege and the ball was moved quickly through several pairs of hands to find fullback Laura Stewart on the wing to create an overlap With still plenty of work to do Stewart cut inside to cross under the posts to allow Lizzie Ballentine to add the extras 7 – 3.
Undaunted Eniskillen set about their business and continued to pin Cooke deep in their own half but were just unable to find that final pass. A loose ball was pounced on by Lauren day who drove up field to release Eliza Downey on the half way line. The competitions leading scorer didn’t disappoint as she raced clear to touch down unchallenged under the posts to give Cooke a 12 – 3 lead at the break.
Cooke enjoyed more possession in the second half and with the elements in their favour they turned that possession into territory. The Enniskillen back row of Gemma McCutcheon, Helen Carleton and Collette McMorrow performed exceptionally well in the loose, tacking everything that moved and trying to run the ball out of the danger zone.
The third quarter passed with no further score but just as the hailstones came down the Cooke girls cut loose.
First a Downey try was disallowed for a knock on over the line, but within minutes Cooke captain Nikita Armstrong blasted her way over the line to take the score to 17 – 3 and seven minutes later the athletic back row barged her way over again to push Cooke further in front at 22 – 3.
Enniskillen kept trying to play rugby and were determined to cross the line to reward their efforts but Cooke’s Laura Nichol pounced on a loose pass to cross the line under the posts with Laura Johnston adding the extras to take the score to 29 – 3.
Spurred on by experienced players Brenda Brogan and Noreen Nethercott, the Skins girls raised efforts even higher as they lay siege to the Cooke try line in the closing minutes but the senior side held on to take the game 29 – 3 and complete their remarkable cup run without conceding a try.
|Rosie Stewart Cup||Cooke||29 – 3||Enniskillen|
|3rd Place||Belfast Harlequins||22 – 18||City of Derry|
|5th Place||Queens University||49 – 7||Sligo|
|7th Place||Cavan||24 – 0||Carrick|
Cooke won the Rosie Stewart Cup beating Enniskillen in the final. Belfast Harlequins took third place, Queens took fifth and Cavan won the 7th place play off.