Ulster Women entertained the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds on Saturday evening at Belfast Harlequins Rugby Club for their last hit out before the Women’s Interprovincials, which kick off next weekend.
It was a bit of a one sided match with Ulster coming out on top 62 – 5 though the young touring side did remain competitive for the bulk of the first half.
Despite the fact that it was a convincing win for the home side it’s difficult to ascertain how much they got out of the game other than a physical contest. The home team had too many big guns to call on and despite many errors their experienced players Kathryn Dane, Jemma Jackson and Beth Cregan, and youngster Neve Jones, kept them going forward.
Based on the original selection, Storm Coban and Ella Durkin were two of the replacements that put their hands up for selection with impressive cameos in the second half, albeit against a tiring side. I’m not 100% convinced that the centre pairing of Kelly McCormill and Maeve Liston worked and would perhaps be more effective the other way round.
For Ulster, the real test, and I would say their first genuine trials match, starts next week with a difficult away trip to Cork to face Munster Women in the opening round of the Women’s Interprovincials.
Despite an extended pre-season Ulster Rugby have only delivered two fairly low key warm up matches and are still chopping and changing players in unfamiliar positions. In fairness the players have delivered two wins, a scarce commodity in Ulster Women’s Rugby, but it all moves up several notches next week.
As for the Thunderbirds, they will have got a lot out of this match as they begin their preparations for the coming season. They were competitive for much of the first half before running out of steam but they worked hard until the end of the game.
Ulster Women: Holly Brannigan, Fiona Tuite, Maeve Liston, Kelly McCormill, Emma Jordan, Jemma Jackson, Kathryn Dane , Emma Kearney, Neve Jones, Shannon Heapes, Chloe McIlwaine, Keelin Brady, Beth Cregan, Katie Heatherington, Lauren Maginnes. Replacements: Lesley Megarity, Ilse Van Staden, Aishling O’Connell, Rebecca Lawlor, Megan Brodie, Storm Cobain, Jena McKeown, Lisa Mullen, Peita McAlister, Ella Durkan, Dolores Hughes, Diane Ramsay
UBC Thunderbirds: Hunter Czeppel, Charlotte Ketchen, Madison Gold, Shoshanah Seumanutafa, Kally King, Breanna Aikens, Alancia Jeffery, Isabelle St Pierre, Rachel Choboter, Tess Woldring, Rori Wood, Tessa Storm, Kendra Roberts, Nicola Jones, Lyric Atchison. Replacements: Nicole Simoneau, Heather Ritchie, Payton McNeill, Rachel Smith, Kristin Johnson, Jordan McLeod, Oreoluwa Abikoye, Mackenzie Adams.
We caught up with Cavan duo Aishling O’Connell and Dolores Hughes plus Thunderbirds players Rori Wood and Madison Gold after the game.
Pictures below from Bob Given Photography and Helen McGhee.