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Ulster Women’s Interprovincial campaign got off to a disappointing start with a 0 – 22 defeat to Munster Women at Ravenhill on Saturday afternoon with the visitors scoring four tries in a fairly one sided affair.

To their credit the team did rally somewhat to restrict Munster to one try in the second half but if this team is to develop to their full potential Ulster are going to have to find them some more competitive fixtures throughout the season as the required standard in AIL 2N just isn’t there.

Munster dominated from start to finish bagging their first try on the 5th minute after a period of pressure on the Ulster line. Munster’s formidable centre Ger Rea bagged the extras and the visitors led 0 – 7.

Ulster’s scrum stood up somewhat better than I expected but it was still under pressure and both sets of line outs were a bit of a lottery, however the visitors ruled the contact area and they continued to keep Ulster pinned in their own half.

The home side defended resolutely, with centres Claire McLaughlin and Peita McAllister coping well from the physical onslaught from Rea, but with Ulster on the rack the inevitable yellow card was issued on the 17th minute with hooker Lesley Megarity taking the hit for the team.

Munster took full advantage with a try four minutes later after a burst by Rea ended up out wide for Ashling Hutchings to go over in the corner. The conversion was missed but the visitors led 0 – 12.

Possession was at a premium for Ulster but they didn’t help themselves with poor kicking options and, most disappointingly, poor technique at the point of contact, both in defence and attack going in too high and in too few numbers in both cases.

Ulster displayed plenty of determination and resolve in the face of the continual onslaught and Munster didn’t help themselves by continually cutting back inside into traffic but a well worked move from left to right on the 31st minute found Debhile Nic A Bhaird in space for the young winger to score in the corner for Munster to extend their lead to 17 – 0.

Half time came and went but the pattern of the game didn’t change all that much. Munster bagged their fourth try on the 50th minute with second row Gerda Coyne taking advantage of a numbers overload out left for Munster’s fourth try, pushing the score along to 0 – 22.

With the bonus point in the bag and the game effectively over both teams started to roll out the replacements and Ulster enjoyed some momentum when they got the ball out wide to Zoe Templeton or Emma Jordan but too often they overcrowded the midfield and ran straight into the welcoming arms of the Munster defence.

Final Score: Ulster 0 Munster 22.

Ulster Women: Vicky Irwin, Emma Jordan, Peita McAlister, Claire McLaughlin, Zoe Templeton, Jemma Jackson, Imogen Porter, Ilse Van Staden, Lesley Megarity, Nikita Armstrong, Sorcha Chipperfield, Lizzie Ballentine, Shirelle Wilson, Hannah Kilgore, Lauren Maginnes. Replacements: Shannon Heapes, Janine Mullan, Sabrina Higgins, Laura Johnston, Rebecca Smyth, Noreen Nethercot, Steffi Clarke, Stacey Sloan.

Munster Women: Mairead Kelly, Debhile Nic A Bhaird, Ger Rea, Nicola Scully, Ashling Hutchings, Laura O’Mahony, Mona Fehily, Fiona Hayes, Amy Desmond, Leah Lyons, Gerda Coyne, Elaine Anthony, Roisin Ormond, Ciara Griffin, Laura Guest. Replacements: Kate Sheehan, Maura Collins, Leah Barbour, Maeve Darcy, Marie Eviston, Ayesha Roche, Mollie O’Donnel, Michelle Barr.

With Leinster scoring a surprise 8 – 15 win in galway against my pre-tournament favourites, Connacht,  Ulster find themselves bottom of the league after week one. They travel to the Sportsground next Saturday where they just might face a bit of a backlash!

Match pictures below courtesy of Bob Given Photography and John McMurtry.

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