The teams were announced earlier today for the Second Round match of the Women’s Interprovincial Series between Munster and Ulster.

Ulster have made a couple of changes, Peita McAlister comes into the centre and Nikki Caughey moves to fullback. Up front Neve Jones claims a starting spot at hooker with Beth Cregan moving to the back row.

Munster have also made a couple of changes with with Laura O’Mahony moving to fullback and Laura Sheehan promoted from the bench to the wing.

Jones’ inclusion at hooker sets up an interesting battle for the youngster against, Ireland’s best hooker of the last ten years, Gill Bourke. I suspect it is a few games too early for Jones but challenging herself against the likes of Bourke is where she needs to be.

Generally, both teams will be familiar to each other with Munster starting with twelve UL Bohemian players and Ulster starting with ten players who have turned out for Cooke this season.

My feeling is that Ulster missed their chance of causing an upset last weekend. They had Leinster on the ropes  for the opening 20 minutes and failed to take advantage, their back line too lateral and too predictable. I suspect this is why the experienced Caughey has been moved to full back, to offer an option from deep, though my preference would have been to move Downey to the centre and McAlister to the wing. However McAlister and Hogan should offer a brick wall defence in the middle of the park.

As it is, discussing the niceties of the back line is probably a moot point as this match will be won or lost up front and it’s here that the experienced Munster pack have a distinct advantage.

Of course, Van Staden will continue to anchor the Ulster scrum and disrupt the Munster one but if Ulster are going to compete in this one they will need to treasure the ball and go into contact a lot lower than they did last week. They need to stop this grizzly Munster pack from weaving their magic.

The bulk of this Munster team threw a big smothering blanket over Railway Union a couple of weeks ago and I suspect they took Connacht for granted last time out, many of the players suffering their first “competitive” defeat this season in that match against the Westies.

There will be a rebound and, I suspect, it’ll take a huge effort from the Ulster pack if they are going to kick start their campaign at Garryowen on Saturday afternoon.

Munster Women   Ulster Women
Laura O’Mahoney 15 Nikki Caughey
Laura Sheehan 14 Emma Jordan
Aine Staunton 13 Brittany Hogan
Niamh Kavanagh 12 Peita McAlister
Syphonia Pua 11 Eliza Downey
Rachel Allen 10 Larissa Muldoon
Ellen Murphy 9 Kathryn Dane
Fiona Hayes 1 Ilse van Staden
Gillian Bourke 2 Neve Jones
Fiona Reidy 3 Sorcha Mac Laimhin
Siobhan McCarthy 4 Hannah Beattie
Chloe Pearse 5 Rebecca Smyth
Edel Murphy 6 Beth Cregan
Siobhan Fleming 7 Gemma McCutcheon
Ciara Griffin 8 Lauren Maginnes
Leah Lyons 16 Lesley Megarity
Maura Collins 17 Helen McGhee
Zoe Grattage 18 Aishling O’Connell
Roisin Ormond 19 Amanda Maginn
Anna Caplice 20 Storm Cobain
Christine Arthurs 21 Amy Graham
Valerie Power 22 Vicky Irwin
Linda McNamara 23 Teah Maguire

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