I thought it would be a decisive weekend for Ulster Women’s rugby and it certainly was, just not in the way I thought it would be.
I imagined I would be sitting here today congratulating Cooke on securing Division 1 status for yet another season and I’d be looking forward to a mouth watering clash between Garda and Queen’s University to see if the students could win AIL2N in their first season.
Unfortunately Cooke went down 19 – 13 against Blackrock and now face the daunting prospect of securing a point of some description against league leaders UL Bohemian to secure their premier status and the shock 10 – 8 loss by, AIL 2N leaders, Belfast Harlequins at Navan means that Queen’s University were crowned league winners a week in advance thanks to their 81 – 0 demolition of Cavan in our featured match at the Dub.
It was always going to be difficult match for Cavan who were only able to field fourteen players, four of whom were novices, but they were doubly unfortunate to come up against a thoroughly professional Queen’s side who just seem to be getting better every week as they sweep all before them.
To their credit Cavan worked hard throughout the game, with our favourite Kiwi, Hilary Quinn, outstanding as she tried to rally the troops, but Queen’s had them out-gunned in every department and such was their fluency, skill and ruthlessness that few teams would have lived with them in this sort of form.
Queens opened the scoring after a few minutes with Lauren Arthur going over for their first after a powerful run down the right. Jemma Jackson followed quickly after and the wonderfully talented out half added the extras to put the home side 12 – 0 ahead.
With Queen’s expansive play it wasn’t long before Arthur’s opposite wing Grace Cole got in on the act, cutting a lovely line as she went over on the left. Cavan continued to battle away but any pause in the scoring was only temporary with the well drilled Queen’s side ready to run the ball from anywhere.
Next to go over was the little dynamo of perpetual motion, Gemma McCutcheon, and within minutes the silky smooth Claire McLaughlin chipped in with Queen’s fifth which Jackson converted. Veteran Cathy Craig was next to cross, with Jackson again converting and the first half came to a close with Catherine Mallon powering over from close range to take the score to 41 – 0 at the break.
Things picked up where they left off at the restart with McLaughlin grabbing her second score and Kathryn Hanna burst through after some great play from Dayna Jost. Jackson converted and the out half was kept busy as Arthur grabbed her second, McLaughlin her third and McCutcheon her second.
Jackson converted them all and even found time to score her own second try, just before McCutcheon, to take the final score to Queen’s University 81 Cavan 0.
There were many contenders for The Front Row Union Girl of the Game with Gemma McCutcheon, Imogen Porter, Claire McLaughlin and Dayna Jost outstanding, among others, but this week’s award goes to Jemma Jackson who kept the game at a remarkable tempo showing composure and control well beyond her years.