A six-try salvo saw Leinster run out winners over a spirited Connacht side in the first round of the women’s Interpro series at a sun-drenched Energia Park on Saturday evening.
Report and picture credit – JC Sports Photography
Leinster were first to get on the scoreboard as number 8 Hannah O’Connor went over after just three minutes, benefitting from Ailsa Hughes’ quickly-taken tap penalty.
The try seemed to be the shock Connacht needed and they quickly set about asserting themselves on the game which they did to some effect, forcing Leinster to concede a number of penalties, two of which were converted by Meabh Deely to see the visitors take a 6-5 lead after 15 minutes.
The first half was an excellent spectacle, played at a high tempo and with huge commitment from both sides. A second Leinster try came when winger Grace Miller shrugged off a desperate cover tackle to finish off a nice backline move by dotting down in the corner and was soon followed by a third which started with a burst down the right wing by outhalf Sene Naoupu who floated a lovely pass inside to the supporting Hughes who pinned back her ears and left the defence in her wake as she raced home.
The physical nature of the contest took its toll as we lost first Elise O’Byrne White and later Denise Redmond who both shipped heavy knocks.
The second half didn’t have the same fluency as the first and Connacht will rue several excellent attacking opportunities that went unfinished down both flanks as a combination of poor decision-making and execution denied them the try their endeavour otherwise merited. They had the benefit of playing against 14 when Larissa Muldoon was sin-binned for a high tackle but were unable to take advantage nonetheless.
Leinster sent on a trio of subs on the hour and this seemed to be the kickstart they needed. They added a further three tries in the final quarter, the first the product of a powerful drive for the line from openside Niamh Ní Dhroma who showed great strength to beat two defenders.
Substitute Meabh O’Brien ran the length of the field for a breakaway fifth before Michelle Claffey, on a welcome return after a serious ankle injury, registered Leinster’s last touchdown of the day.