Cooke Women consolidated their top four placing in the Women’s All Ireland League with a convincing 34 – 5 win against Highfield Women at Shaws Bridge on Sunday afternoon.
The home side’s tries came from Ilse van Staden (2), Emma Jordan, Vicky Irwin and Dolores Hughes with Jemma Jackson adding three first half penalties. Highfield replied through Ciara O’Dwyer who crossed for the Cork side late in the second half.
The first half was a frustrating affair. Cooke had a strong wind behind them and they kept their opponents pinned in their own territory for most of the half. The Belfast players created plenty of chances but their tendency to snatch the final pass, coupled with a resolute Highfield defence, limited Cooke to two penalties from Jemma Jackson in the first half hour.
At this stage, despite losing the influential Heather O’Brien, Highfield would have been reasonably happy with their efforts but they eventually succumbed to the pressure with the impressive Ilse van Staden barging over out wide for Cooke’s first try. Jackson missed the difficult conversion leaving the score at 11 – 0 in Cooke’s favour.
Jackson added a penalty minutes later to take the score to 14 – 0 but with Cooke turning round to face the strong wind in the second half they were in danger of regretting their proflacy with the ball in hand.
Van Staden settled the home sides nerves with a well taken try, after a break by Helen McGhee, and with Cooke now leading 19 – 0 they seemed to relax.
The underrated Emma Jordan was next to cross, out on the left, after another barging run from McGhee and Vicky Irwin went over in the same corner, after a break by Frida Nilsson, for the bonus point try.
The hard working, and closely marked, Brittany Hogan finally found some space, late in the half, to break through the defence and send replacement Dolores Hughes over for Cooke’s fifth to rattle the score along to 34 – 0.
To their credit, Highfield refused to lie down and they worked a deserved try for Ciara O’Dwyer late in the game to take the final score to Cooke 34 Highfield 5.