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Cooke claimed the honour of “Best in Belfast” after a convincing 12 – 40 win against local rivals, Queen’s University, in round three off the All Ireland League.

Despite the defeat QUB did have enough moments in the match to show that they have the potential to be more competitive in the senior league than their results indicate.

The students got off to the worst possible starts, kicking directly to touch, and minutes later a rampaging run by prop Ilse van Staden ended with Claire Johnston crossing for the opening score, Hannah Kilgore converting.

Queen’s recovered well from their early setback and enjoyed the bulk of territory and possession with winger Sarah Gibson looking dangerous. Cooke’s big pack were asked to relieve the pressure on several occasions.

The breakthrough came just before the half hour mark as Zoe Templeton went over out wide to bring the score to 5 – 7 and ten minutes later the impressive Christina Ramos broke from deep to outstrip the defence for Queen’s second score. Jackson converted and the students led 12 – 7.

Cooke looked rattled but they were able to call on the services of “recently retired” Grace Davitt from the bench. Davitt has obviously been feeling frustrated through her whole three weeks of retirement and a scything run through the Queens defence set up Teah Maguire for the  equalising score. Kilgore added the extras to give Cooke a two point lead at the break.

The first half had been very entertaining with Queen’s in particular playing some nice rugby but the second half was too one sided to be as enjoyable.

The introduction of Davitt had give Cooke extra confidence and seemed to put a question of doubt in the mind of the Queen’s players which was compounded when Irish International Ashleigh Baxter raced through straight from the kick off to push Cooke’s lead to seven points.

A penalty try, after a series of scrums near the Queen’s line, seemed to sap the home side further and from then on the visitors pack were well on top.

The match got a bit scrappy after that but Cooke finished strongly with a second try from Baxter and Eliza Downey wrapped it all up with the final play of the game. Davitt converted both to give Cooke a 12 – 40 win.

Cooke will be pleased to have built on their narrow loss to UL Bohemian last week and Queen’s can take some consolidation that they were competitive for large periods of the game and if they can put together a full eighty minutes they’ll cause a few teams problems this season.

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