It was the good and bad of Women’s rugby this weekend with two cracking matches involving Ulster sides but unfortunately there were also two walkovers in AIL2 with both Garda and Cavan unable to field against Belfast Harlequins and City of Derry respectively.
In AIL 1 Cooke, the slumbering giants of Ulster Women’s rugby, finally got their league campaign off the ground with an exciting 17 – 17 draw against Tralee, notching up their first league points of the season. It’s a small step in their return to greatness, and there will be harder matches along the way, but it will give their new players a degree of confidence and, I’m sure, a little relief that they are heading in the right direction once again.
The result has the added bonus of moving the Belfast outfit off bottom spot in the league.
The only other game featuring an Ulster side that was actually completed was, luckily enough, our featured match of Navan v Queen’s University, with Queen’s overcoming a stiff challenge from the Leinster outfit to eventually pull away in the second half in a cracking wee game.
Queen’s got off to the best of starts with the experienced Imogen Porter darting over between the posts after a clean catch and drive by Colette Broom at a line-out. Aiofe Walsh added the conversion to give Queen’s a 0 – 7 lead with less than 5 minutes on the clock.
The young Navan side responded well and dominated much of the remainder of the first half as they enjoyed the territorial advantage. Queen’s defended well but, despite losing their talented outhalf to injury, Navan eventually made their breakthrough early in the second quarter with their No 7 crossing the line after a sustained attack. The conversion was missed from out wide leaving Navan trailing 5 – 7.
Queen’s hit back with driving runs from Gemma McCutcheon, Broome, Claire McLaughlin and Heather Cegla all prominent and it was McCutcheon who made the breakthrough with a trademark burst off the back of a scrum to score under the posts late in the half. Walsh converted and Queen’s took a somewhat fortunate 5 – 14 lead into halftime.
The Belfast side took a decisive advantage in the third quarter with the impressive Dayna Jost scoring after a period of pressure on the home line and shortly after McLaughlin finished off a flowing move to give Queen’s the bonus point try. Walsh converted the second and Queen’s looked comfortable with the score reading Navan 5 Queen’s 26.
As Navan tired the students were able to finish the game off in some style with the powerhouse Jostsmashing over for her second try and replacement Lauren Arthur capped a bustling display with the sixth try for Queen’s in the closing minutes to take the final score Navan 5 Queen’s University 36.