Ulster suffered a second defeat in the Inter Provincial series going down 0 – 34 to a talented Munster side at Ravenhill on Saturday afternoon. The Ulster girls put in another spirited performance but were unlucky to come up against a Munster team firing on all cylinders with, Munster and Ireland full back, Niamh Briggs, in particular, in oustanding form.
Ulster started the game brightly putting the visitors under immediate pressure but a careless penalty meters from the Munster line allowed the visitors to clear. Ulster continued to press and kept Munster pinned in their own half for long periods of the opening quarter but a bustling run up the middle of the pitch by powerful centre Geraldine Rae presented Munster with a penalty which Briggs converted to give the visitors a three point lead.
Ulster continued to have the edge in possession and before long they were back attacking the Munster line. Unfortunately a grubber through by Grace Davitt was collected by Briggs meters from her own line and the powerful full back broke the initial tackles to set up a counter attack. Niamh Kavanah and Rea took the ball on before putting wing forward Siobhan Fleming clear for a race to the line. Despite a last gasp tackle from Teah Maguire, which appeared to dislodge the ball in the process of touching down, the try was awarded to give Munster an eight point lead.
The home side pressed for a score of their own but Munster were able to relieve pressure through the boot of Briggs and the visitors were able to break for a second try before the half came to an end. Centre Mairead Kelly initiated the move before passing inside to Rae who brushed aside Maguire’s challenge to score under the posts. Briggs converted taking the half time score to Ulster 0 Munster 15.
Munster landed the knock out blow shortly after the break with Niamh Kavanah crossing the line, Briggs converting, and, as the game began to break up with a series of substitutions it was the experienced visitors who were able to capitalise with a second try from Rae. Briggs rounded off an exceptional personal performance with a try of her own which the talented full back converted to push the score along to 0 – 34.
As with last week, Ulster’s inexperienced side kept pushing till the end showing great determination and character. Lizzie Ballentine led the way with Lauren Day, Hilary Quinn, Nikita Armstrong, Imogen Porter, Grace Davitt and Stacey Lea Kennedy all battering the Munster defence. Substitutes Nicola Dickson, Brigid McDermot and Lucy Fagan all did well and added considerable grunt to the pack putting Munster under intense pressure in the closing minutes. Unfortunately for Ulster the Munster girls had too much guile and the visitors managed to keep their line intact with the game ending Ulster 0 Munster 34.
Despite a second defeat Ulster’s captain Captain Lizzie Ballentine is still upbeat about this developing squad.
The experience of Munster told in the end today. We put in a strong battling performance and there were good individual performances. We are definitely improving as a team.
Yes, the match scores are not as we’d like but it must be remembered that Munster scored some exceptional tries out there today, capitalising on the few mistakes we made. We matched a very experienced side in a lot of areas and but for those few errors the game would have been much closer.
The girls coped well with another step up in intensity and with the level of performance from our girls it would be easy to forget that we had 10 or 11 new caps out there. This year is all about development and we’ll look for further improvement against Connacht
Ulster travel to Galway to play Connacht in a fortnights time.
Ulster: Teah Maguire, Kelly Holmes, Claire McLaughlin, Laura Nicholl, Laura Stewart, Grace Davitt, Imogen Porter, Nikita Armstrong, Stacey Lea Kennedy, Claire Knipe, Christina McDowell, Glenda Mellon, Lauren Day, Hilary Quinn, Lizzie Ballentine, Shirelle Wilson, Lucy Fagan, Nicola Dickson, Brigid Reynolds, Zoe Templeton, Alana McCaffrey, Bridin McDermott.
Munster: Niamh Briggs, Olivia Stapleton, Mairaid Kelly, Geraldine Rae, Sarah Jane Cody, Helen Brosnan, Louise Beamish, Helen Jones, Siobhan Flemming, Louise Austin, Heather O’Brien, Karen Casey, Gillian Bourke, Christine Fanning, Laura Guest, Kate Sheehan, Fiona Reidy, Maeve Darcy, Joy Nevelle, Orlaith Buckley, Clara Bracken, Ashling Hutchings, Nicola Scully, Niamh Kavanagh