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Despite a late rally from the home side, Belfast Harlequins held on to win this All Ireland League match by 15 points to 10 at a sunny Carrick Rugby Club on Sunday afternoon.

I’m particularly enjoying covering the Women’s AIL 2N this season which is producing some very competitive games as the non-traditional ladies sides step up to compete in the new league format. Some of the technique may be a bit rough round the edges but this game, like last weeks Quins v Skins, showed no lack of commitment, several moments of silky skills and an intriguing midfield battle with Carrick’s Hilary Cawood and Quins’ Nikki Caughey going head to head.

It was the experienced Cawood who set the pace early on, cutting in from the right to score under the posts. Unfortunately the conversion attempt hit the bar, but Carrick were good value for their 5 – 0 lead.

Carrick put their visitors under a lot of pressure early on but Caughey hit back with a penalty, after Carrick’s Louise Andrews was yellow carded for over vigorous rucking. Harlequins went ahead when Caughey and Natalie Bryant combined on the wing to send flyer Ashleigh Baxter clear to run in a try from the halfway line. Caughey converted taking the half time score to 10 – 5.

Both sides upped the intensity in the second half with the game becoming a bit of a battle in the middle of the park. Harlequins eventually managed to put some pressure on the Carrick line and the hard working Emma Boyd dived on a lose ball at the back of a Carrick scrum to increase the visitors lead to 5 – 15.

Carrick refused to be beaten and, after a driving run by Cawood, the home side were awarded a series of penalties close to the Quins’ line. Quins managed to hold up the first drive to the line but on the second attempt Louise Andrews made up for her binning by barging over in the corner for Carrick’s second try. The conversion was missed leaving the score at 10 – 15.

Carrick pushed for that equalising third try but, with Cawood limping off injured,  it was Harlequins that finished the game the strongest playing the last minutes of the game deep in the hosts’ half.

Final score: Carrick 10  Harlequins 15.

Carrick: Sabrina Higgins, Suzanna McVeigh, Lydine Wilson, Joanne  McIlwaine, Claire  McAtamney, Louise Andrews, Rosie McKee, Helen Smyth, Alyson Smyth, Heather Gamble, Lauren Arthur, Hilary Cawood, Jenna McCammon, Laura Todd, Suzie Cavan, Carol  McQuillan, Charleen Auld, Claire  Kirkwood, Joanne  Smyth, Joanna  Jones, Yana Tweed

Belfast Harlequins: Alanagh Chipperfield, Jen Goodall, Sorcha Chipperfield, Sharon Mairs, Kara Swales, Emma Boyd, Annmarie Nolan, Frankie Durieux, Jenn Stewart, Jenny Waide, Rebecca Francis, Nikki Caughey, Rachel Morton, Lesleyann Stirling, Ashleigh Baxter, Brenda Artt, Amy Greenlee, Natalie Bryant

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