Leinster (17) 46
TRY: Alisa Hughes, Katie Fitzhenry (2), Paula Fitzpatrick (2) Hannah Tyrrell, Niamh Byrne. CON: Jenny Murphy (4). PEN: Jenny Murphy.
Ulster (0) 0
Ulster went down by seven tries to nil in their second Women’s Interprovincial match at Donnybrook on Saturday afternoon.
The host’s tries came from Alisa Hughes and Katie Fitzhenry in the first half with Fitzhenry adding a second shortly after the restart. Paula Fitzpatrick also collected a second half brace with Hannah Tyrrell and Niamh Byrne crossing late in the game. Jenny Murphy converted four of the tries to add to a first half penalty.
As I settled down behind the goal line that Ulster were attacking to look through my viewfinder at the start of this match, I thought that the Ulster players looked very small compared to their Leinster opponents. However, as Father Ted Crilly has taught me, they were just far away and unfortunately that’s where they remained for most of this match as Leinster dominated proceedings for the bulk of this game.
That’s not to say that Ulster didn’t have their moments, They were competitive for the first twenty minutes creating three good chances to Leinster’s one but the home side’s dominance of the scrum was ominous and once they went ahead on the twentieth minute, thanks to a Murphy penalty, it was pretty much one way traffic.
The first try set the tone with Leinster scrum half Alisa Hughes waltzing through the Ulster defence on the 24th minute and six minutes later the impressive Katie Fitzhenry repeated the dose with Ulster’s defence in tatters.
Ulster were definitely feeling the loss of midfield defensive general Eliza Downey and despite a half time roasting from Philip Doyle things didn’t improve after the break.
Trust was gone in their defensive patterns and the inexperienced Ulster side over compensated by flooding the breakdown and leaving huge gaps in defence, which Leinster exploited ruthlessly in a second half procession. The parachuting in of Nikki Caughey and Ashleigh Baxter didn’t help as neither have been available for any Ulster training camps for the last two seasons, due to Ireland duties, and Claire McLaughlin had her hands full containing a resurgent Murphy in their own, entertaining, midfield battle.
Our Player of the Game, Fitzhenry crossed for her second shortly after the break with Paula Fitzpatrick getting in on the act for tries number four and five to push the score to 34 – 0 by the 65th minute.
Tries from Hannah Tyrrell and Niamh Byrne in the closing minutes completed the scoring.
Ulster: Nikki Caughey, Emma Jordan, Peita McAlister, Claire McLaughlin, Amy Davis, Jemma Jackson, Kathryn Dane, Ilse Van Staden, Lesley Megarity, Sorcha Mac Laimhim, Naomi McCullagh, Storm Cobain, Gemma McCutcheon, Ashleigh Baxter, Lauren Maginnes. Replacements: Brigid Collins, Shauna Martin, Beth Cregan, Aisling O’Connell, Hannah Beattie, Brittany Hogan, Leah McGoldrick, Maeve Liston.
We caught up with two of Ulster’s younger players, Leah McGoldrick and Brittany Hogan, who both made an appearance in the frenetic second half.
So, a bit of a hammering! How did that feel?
Hogan: Disappointing, we came out expecting a tight match, a match we wanted to win, but unfortunately it wasn’t our day. We were too narrow in defence and they caught us out wide. They were more clinical with the ball in hand and that’s what let us down.
McGoldrick: It definitely could have been better! They took their chances better than we did, we didn’t finish off very well, but it’s a good learning curve for us younger players that have just come up [to the seniors].
How did you find the pace of the game?
Hogan: Fast. Senior rugby is faster anyway but this was especially so due to the artificial surface at Donnybrook. It was dry and the ball wasn’t dropped many times so it was a big step up, but it wasn’t too bad!
Are you looking forward to the match against Connacht next week?
McGoldrick: Yes we are so excited to be going down to Galway, it should be good. We beat Connacht in our pre-season trials so hopefully we’ll do well. We go in on Wednesday and see what we have to work on and by Saturday we’ll be raring to give it to them! 🙂