Ophir travelled to Pollock Park to play Lurgan in the Ulster Women’s Conference, in what would be both teams first competitive league game. (I think it’s the first official women’s Conference game we’ve covered as well. – Ed)
Report and pictures by Bob Given Photography
As Lurgan only had available 13 players, under competition rules the game was played as 13 aside.
Ophir kicked off, playing with a strong breeze and put Lurgan under pressure. A Lurgan knock on, close to their own posts, allowed Cindy Cancino to pounce and score the opening try, converted by Molly Dixon.
Lurgan responded on 15 minutes, when the ball was worked wide, allowing Aiesha McAlinden to go over in the corner for an unconverted try.
The rest of the half was played between the 22s, with defenses on top. Ophir lead 7-5 at the break.
If the 1st half was tight and low scoring, then the second half was a veritable try fest!
The 2nd half was only 5 minutes old, when Rachael McConnell followed up on her chip through to score a try, converted by Sarah Patterson for Lurgan to lead 12-7.
Ophir retook the lead with a brace of Marianne Breen unconverted tries, after 60 and 64 minutes to lead 17-12.
On 67 minutes Cancino, broke on the left, evading would be tacklers and ran in a try from 60 metres for Ophir. Dixon converted from under the posts for Ophir to lead 24-12.
Lurgan upped their tempo and McConnell’s fine solo run, resulted in a try under the posts, converted by Patterson to reduce Ophir’s lead to 24-19 after 73 minutes.
On 78 minutes Ophir replied, pressurizing the Lurgan defense and Cancino dived on a Lurgan knock on ‘in goal’ to claim her hat trick. Dixon converted to give Ophir a 31-19 victory.
Both coaches can take a lot of positives from the game.
If I was to name a ‘MVP’, in terms of ball carries, metres made and tackle made, not to mention her hat trick, then Ophir scrum half, Cindy Cancino stood out.