Ulster Women U18’s unbeaten run came to a shuddering end following a 22 – 5 defeat by Leinster U18’s at North Kildare RFC on Saturday afternoon, the home side outscoring the defending champions by four tries to one.
The opening exchanges were tense with Leinster enjoying the better of territory and possession. However, Ulster looked reasonably comfortable in defence and breaks by Mya Alcorn and Ellie Ingram kept the home teams defence on their toes.
Sure enough another break out by Ulster, this time sparked by Lisa Mullen and Lucy Turkington was taken on by the forwards for scrum half Amanda McQuade to dart over out wide after a period of pressure on the Leinster line.
Leinster responded well and roared on by the home crowd their pressure eventually told for their winger Molly Fitzgerald to grab a brace just before the break to give Leinster a 10 – 5 lead at half time.
The second half continued in the same fashion as the first half ended with Leinster on the attack. Ulster again absorbed the early pressure but the home side looked more hungry for the ball and a few too many of Ulster’s passes weren’t going to hand.
As the pressure mounted on the Ulster defence the cracks began to appear and Leinster scrum half, Ciara Carberry, took full advantage to dart over for the crucial third score, putting 10 points between the teams.
Ulster finally woke up and the big guns up front started to rumble with Tammy Millar, Megan Brodie and Keelin Brady to the fore but it was all individual efforts and Leinster were well on top at the breakdown, which was the deciding factor.
As Ulster pressed everything into attack the inevitable happened and Leinster’s Anna Doyle broke from deep to add the killer score late in the second half. The try was converted to give a final score of Leinster 22 Ulster 5.
Ulster Women U18: Ruth Gilsenan, Mya Alcorn, Kelly McCormill, Lucy Turkington, Ellie Ingram. Lisa Mullen, Amanda McQuade, Emma Kearney, Grace Shrestha (c), Ella Garland, Megan Brodie, Caolin McCormack, Bethany McDowell, Katie Hetherington, Keelin Brady (vc). Replacements: Aoife Cahill, Ava Fannin, Tammy Millar, Sorcha McCormack, Naomi McCord, Amber Redmond, Meabh McAleavey, Holly Brannigan.
I suppose the unbeaten run had to come to an end sometime, and it’ll be interesting to see how this group of players respond in their final match of this series against Munster. There is still a chance that they can keep their title though they will need a winning margin of around 20 points and they will have to hope that the Leinster Connacht game is a low score win for Leinster or any win for Connacht.