It was mixed fortunes for Ulster clubs in the AIL with only two wins out of a possible four on Sunday.
After a bit of a revival last week, Ulster’s AIL1 side, Cooke, went down to a disappointing 46 – 5 defeat to St Mary’s at Templeville Road and in AIL 2 City of Derry battled to a 26 – 5 defeat by Garda. It’s good to see that the young Derry side weren’t completely overwhelmed by a strong police side and after a few more game the north west outfit will be causing teams more than a few problems.
Enniskillen got back to winning ways in some style with a bonus point win over Navan RFC at Mullaghmeen. Etna Flannigan (2), Collette McMorrow and Shauna McMorrow all crossed the line for Skins as they claimed 24 – 0 bonus point win with Caoimhe Morris adding a couple of conversions.
Our match of the weekend saw another impressive performance from a young Queen’s side who outfought an experienced Belfast Harlequins side to win 16 – 7 at the Dub and blow the league wide open.
It was nearly a case of total dominance for the students as their young and lightweight pack took it to their opposite numbers big style.
The students went into an early 3 – 0 lead through the boot of Jemma Jackson and were quickly on the attack looking for more. Quins were pinned in their own half for long periods, but they defended exceptionally well, soaking up the pressure and hoping that the students would soon blow themselves out.
With Gemma McCutcheon, amongst others, magnificent in the loose, the students showed no sign of letting up and eventually, after a period of intense pressure in the Quins 22, Imogen Porter spotted space out right and popped a pass to Aiofe Walsh for the big full back to slide over. Jackson missed the conversion and the teams turned round with the home side winning 8 - 0, small reward for the amount of territory and possession that the students had enjoyed.
All expectations were that Quins would up their game in the second half and they switched the hard working and hard running Zoe Templeton into scrum half to harass her opponent and to look for quick counters, but it was the students who struck first with Jackson adding her second penalty to take the score to 11 – 0.
Templeton did make her presence count with her darting runs and raw pace causing Queen’s all sort of problems and from one such break the ball was eventually fed to Nikki Caughey who sliced through the defence to touch down under the posts. Caughey converted and Quins were back in it with the score now reading Queens 11 Quins 7.
The home supporters nerves were in shreds for the final quarter as Templeton, Baxter and Caughey always looked capable of a 30 or 40 meter break and Danni Boyd looks to have adapted well to the pace of the game at this level, but unfortunately for the visitors their pack’s fitness level was found wanting as the students smashed them around the pitch. With Quins starved of possession and pinned in their own half there was only one way the final score was going to go and those little pocket rockets McCutcheon and Jackson combined off the back of a scrum for Jackson to cross and make the game safe.
Final Score: Queens University 16 Belfast Harlequins 7