Ulster Women recorded a 40 – 29 win against Connacht Women in a pre-season trials match at Clogher Valley RFC on Saturday afternoon.
The game was played over three thirds with both camps taking the opportunity to look at thier resources ahead of the upcoming interprovincial series.
2019 Interprovincial Championship Fixtures
Sat 17th August 15:00 Munster v Ulster, Irish Independent Park
Sat 24th August 15:00 Ulster v Leinster, City of Armagh RFC
Sat 31st August 15:30 Ulster v Connacht, Queen’s Sports Arena
These are followed by the knockout stages
Semi Finals Day: Saturday 14th September. St Mary’s RFC, Dublin – Match 1 (1 v 4), Match 2 (2 v 3 ).
Finals Day: Saturday 21st September. MU Barnhall RFC, Co Kildare – Match 1 (L1 v L2), Match 2 (W1 v W2).
Typical of these sort of trial games it was a scrappy run out for both sides, but, despite being blighted by constantant stoppages, it was enjoyable enough.
The game kicked off encouragingly, with a barging run from Ulster’s Beth Cregan setting the tone, and the home team went into an early lead with a try from Holly Brannigan, converted by, Virginia youngster, Lisa Mullen.
Connacht responded with a try from Catherine Martin, converted by Nicole Fowley and the visitors looked to be getting on top for long spells of the first period but they failed to find the continuity to trouble the try line with an effort from Mairead Coyne ruled out.
Ulster eventually figured out that they needed to get the ball to Irwin as soon as possible to make things happen and they scored two more tries, the first a typical barging run from Ilse van Staden and the second a jink through the defence from Irwin.
Mullen converted both to give Ulster a 21 – 7 lead at the end of the first 3rd.
Both teams swapped out most of their players for the second 3rd and Connacht got off to a flyer with youngster Aoibheann Reilly particularly impressive for the visitors.
Inspired by the all action Reilly, the Western Province ran in three quick tries, two from Reilly and one from Rachel Cox, and with one converted, the score moved along to 21 – 24 in Connacht’s favour before Ulster found their defensive patterns. However, a late cameo from the D4 Dutchess, Jemma Jackson, saw Ulster pull back two tries to regain the lead. Jackson got the ball rolling with a try and conversion before a determined effort from, another D4 Aristo, Fiona Tuite saw Ulster go into the final period defending a 33 – 24 lead.
The pace of the game and the continuity went up a notch for the final 3rd as both teams gave a bit of a nod towards future starting combinations. However, Ulster still caught the visitors off guard early on with a straightforward dash through the centre by Kelly McCormill off the back of a powerful scrum.
Connacht again enjoyed the lion’s share of possession for the remainder of the game but the Ulster defence was well organised, limiting the visitors chances to a try from Ash Brosnan in the final minute. The game ending with Ulster 40 – 29 to the good on the scoreboard.
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