Ulster U18 Women will complete the first ever Inter-provincial competition when they take on Munster on Saturday afternoon at Westmanstown RFC, Dublin, Kick off 3:30pm.
As it stands, Ulster are the only team that complete a Grand Slam but Munster can also pick up the Championship with a win, following their draw with Leinster last weekend.
The results of the series to date are as follows:
MUNSTER 33 CONNACHT 7
ULSTER 10 LEINSTER 5
LEINSTER 0 MUNSTER 0
CONNACHT 5 ULSTER 34
Unsurprisingly Ulster have named their strongest starting XV with Vicky Irwin returning to the out half berth after an imposing second half performance against Connacht. Outstanding centres Leah McGoldrick and Brittany Hogan remain in place and their partnership with Irwin should provide Ulster with a definite attacking edge.
However the back three combination of Ciara Browne, Ellie Ingram and Kelly McCormill will also cause defensive headaches for their opponents with full back Browne, in particular, impressive last week with her runs from deep.
Up front, leading try scorer, Neve Jones will continue to be the heartbeat of the team, the dynamic prop grabbing three tries already by sheer force of will. This little “Duracell Bunny” of a player really is the epitome of all action from start to finish.
Following further injuries in the second row, Storm Cobain moves from the back row to partner Caolinn McCormack with Katie Hetherington joining the back row, alongside Keelin Brady and Claire Boles. Boles gets the nod at No 8 and I suspect she and Cobain will share the ball carrying role, which they did very effectively last time out.
In the replacements I’m pleased to see the return of Bethany McDowell alongside the regulars on a strong bench.
However, at the end of the day, I suspect the outcome of this game, in what is likely to be a close match, will rest on the steely nerve and ball kicking skills of scrum half Lisa Mullen, the form kicker of the tournament so far. Bring it on.
Ulster Women U18: Ciara Browne, Ellie Ingram, Leah McGoldrick, Brittany Hogan, Kelly McCormill, Vicky Irwin, Lisa Mullen, Emma Kearney, Sara Whitley, Neve Jones, Storm Cobain, Caolinn McCormack, Keelin Brady, Katie Heatherington, Claire Boles. Replacements: Megan Brodie, Grace Shrestha, Tammy Millar, Natalie Kinghan, Bethany McDowell, Carla Rafferty, Lucinda Kinghan, Ellie Rix