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Cooke came oh so close to causing a major upset in the Women’s AIL, earlier this afternoon, scoring five tries against the formidable UL Bohemian in the Belfast outfit’s first outing in the senior league for three years.

Cooke’s powerful pack controlled much of the game; to an extent that should have tipped the balance.  However, they were slow to get started in each half shipping a combined total of 22 points within five minutes of the start of each period!

It looked like it was going to be a long day in the paddock for Cooke when they found themselves 0 – 5 down after two minutes and despite a spirited series of defensive plays it was soon 0 – 8 after Niamh Briggs slotted over a penalty before the opening five minutes were up.

The Ulster side eventually got their act together and their pack, ably led by the formidable Ilse Van Staden, started to work their way into the game and, after a period of pressure in the Bohemian’s 22, abrasive scrum half Beth Cregan nipped over for Cooke’s first score of the afternoon.

Impressive centre Claire Johnston looked to have put Cooke in the lead after a powerful surge for the line, only to be adjudged held up but minutes later Lesley Megarity pounced on a loose ball to nip over for the score.

The FRU Player of the Game Ilse van Staden heading for the try line.

Bohemian’s looked rocked, and things got worse for the visitors when the hugely impressive Van Staden crossed to give Cooke a 15 – 8 lead with two minutes to go to the break, however the Limerick outfit fought back to cross with the last play of the half to take the score to 15 – 13 as the teams changed ends.

The visitors started the second half at breakneck speed scoring two tries before Cooke realised which direction they were playing and, with Briggs converting both, Bohemians opened up a daunting 15 – 27 lead.

As in the first half though Cooke worked their way back into the game with Ashleigh Baxter coming to the fore. The Ireland star worked hard in defence and attack making ground and drawing in defenders every time she got the ball. Unfortunately somewhat liberal refereeing allowed Boh’s to shut out quite a few attacks and with four “final warnings” being issued a couple of players really should have walked.

However Cooke kept plugging away and eventually got their reward when Nikita Armstrong completed a hat trick for the front row to take the score to 22 – 27  with 30 minutes left, Hannah Kilgore converting.

Bohemians ability to turn defence into attack looked to be decisive when they broke out after another period of sustained pressure to score what looked like the winning try with ten minutes left.

There was still time however for a final twist and wonderful try from Eliza “Angry” Downey, minutes later, kept it a one score game right to the finish. Unfortunately, despite pummelling the Bohemian’s defence in the closing minutes, the home side were unable to find that elusive winning score.

Final Score: Cooke 27 UL Bohemian 32.

Cooke: Nikita Armstrong, Lesley Megarity, Ilse Van Staden, Sorcha Chipperfield, Alanagh Chipperfield, Hannah Kilgore, Shirelle Wilson, Brigid Collins, Beth Cregan, Eliza Downey, Emma Rea, Claire Johnston, Courtney Bell, Ashleigh Baxter, Teah Maguire. Replacements: Fiona McCaughan, Abigail Hamilton, Carryanne Murray, Laura Johnston, Kelly Holmes, Helen McGhee, Rachael Beattie.


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