Ulster Women (5) 10
TRY: Kathryn Dane, Jordanne Booth
Connacht Women (0) 5
TRY: Clare Rafferty
Ulster Women ended their recent drought with a 10 – 5 win against Connacht Women in this pre-season trial game at Enniskillen RFC on Saturday afternoon.
Kathryn Dane and Jordanne Booth both crossed for the home side to give Ulster a 10 – 0 lead before Clare Rafferty pulled one back for Connacht late in the game.
As befits a trial, both teams introduced a lot of new faces but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of play from the start with Ulster, in particular, quickly settling into a simple but effective game plan which saw them dominate the breakdown, territory and possession for much of the first period.
Emma Jordan crossed halfway through the first period, only for the try to be disallowed for a double movement, but, just as I was starting to get concerned about their lack of rewards for their dominant play, a piece of quick thinking by scrum half Kathryn Dane saw the Enniskillen youngster cross after a quick tap.
Both sides made multiple changes at the first break and Connacht enjoyed the bulk of territory and possession in the second period. However, the well drilled Ulster defence, and a few handling errors from Connacht, ensured that the home side’s line remained intact as the teams went into their second break and another series of wholesale changes.
The third and final period started in the middle of a downpour but Ulster played the conditions better and were soon back on top, keeping the visitors pinned in their own half for long periods. A flowing backline move was finished off by Jordanne Booth who did well to force her way over the line to double Ulster’s advantage. The Harlequins player showing impressive determination to cross despite the close attention of two Connacht defenders.
Connacht, who had squandered a few chances in the second period, eventually got some reward for their efforts late in the final period when experienced out half Clare Rafferty weaved her way through the Ulster defence for the final score of the afternoon.
Full Time: Ulster 10 Connacht 5.
Ulster Women – Extended Squad:
(Forwards) Aishling O’Connell, Amanda Maginn, Beth Cregan, Hannah Beattie, Ilse Van Staden, Lauren Maginnes, Lesley Megarity, Noreen Nethercott, Rebecca Smyth, Shannon Heapes, Shauna Martin, Shirelle Wilson, Sorcha MacLaimhin, Storm Cobain.
(Backs) Alexa Grudgings, Claire Johnston, Emma Jordan, Hannah Burns, Jemma Jackson, Jordanne Booth, Kathryn Dane, Maeve Liston, Natalie Watson, Niamh Walsh, Peita McAlister, Shannon Davidson, Teah Maguire, Vicky Irwin.
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Direct running, good support, speed up the breakdown, get in their faces in attack and defence and make your tackles just about sums it up and the Ulster players largely followed their script. However the big difference was that they believed in it. Yes it was “only” a trial game against an equally understrength Connacht, but that belief was the main difference between the teams.
A lot of new faces and a lot of young, young players who will only get better.