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Blackrock remain unbeaten and top of the Women’s AIL table as Old Belvedere run riot against St Mary’s

It was a busy weekend of women’s club rugby action.

UL Bohemains Niamh Briggs.
UL Bohemains Niamh Briggs.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO via file pic

Women’s AIL Round 8

  • Cooke 5 – 22 Blackrock, Shaw’s Bridge
  • Old Belvedere 88 – 0 St Mary’s, Anglesea Road
  • Queens 17 – 41 Galwegians, Dub Lane
  • UL Bohemian 45 – 0 Highfield, Annacotty

EVERYTHING WAS TO play for in this penultimate regular season round of the Women’s AIL as teams vied to either cement their place or push their way into the top four and the play-off places.

The likes of Ireland stalwarts Niamh Briggs, Sophie Spence and Nora Stapleton as well as new caps Mairead Coyne and Ainé Donnelly all showed their class on return from international duty after Ireland’s women’s historic first autumn international last week.

Blackrock’s unbeaten run continues with a win over Cooke after their draw with Railway Union last week. The Stradbrook side travelled north to Belfast. Despite a very evenly match first half at Shaw’s Bridge.

For the first 20 minutes, two sides were finding the measure of each other and the deadlock was broken 15 minutes into the game when Cooke drew first blood. Ulster fullback Teah Maguire exploited an overlap after a successful line out for the hosts. Former Ireland international Grace Davitt playing at out half could not add the extras.

Blackrock showed their class to reply at the 20-minute mark, when their fullback Amy O’Neill made a terrific run off the back of a scrum. Newly-capped Ireland international Jeamie Deacon could not manage the conversion.

The match was finely poised at five points a piece for the remainder of the half with a notable moment coming just before the interval involving the clash of heads between Blackrock’s two centres Deacon and Michelle Claffey as they went into tackle Davitt.

Claffey had to be taken off for medical assessment but Deacon played on and scored all of her side’s points in the second half; a penalty, two tries and two conversions, all unanswered. The penalty coming at 45 minutes and the former UCD hockey player scored her tries at 55 and 71 minutes.

The ‘Rock women went on to win with a margin of 22 points to 5 as Cooke’s line out faltered and their players could not develop continuity in their second half phase play.

Reigning champions Old Belvedere showed their experience and desire to seal a play off a place as they ran riot against an injury plagued St Mary’s at Anglesea road with a final score line of 88-nil. The Dublin 4 side had sealed their bonus point after just 19 minutes.

The 14-try performance included a dazzling four-try performance from former Ireland international Sharon Lynch and hat tricks from current internationals Spence and Donnelly.

Wing Hazel Rooney, out half Stapleton, replacement back Amy O’Connor, outside centre Emer O’Malley and replacement back row Niamh Fitzgerald also contributed five pointers.

Old Belvedere now sit in second position thanks to superior points difference.

Galwegians earned a crucial away bonus point against a plucky Queens’ side at Dub lane and find them selves in fourth place in the final play-off position. The strong performance included four tries from one of Ireland’s new caps from last week’s autumn international Mairead Coyne, playing at fullback.

Scrum half Mary Healy; another of Ireland’s rising stars opened the scoring for Galwegians after just eight minutes. However, Queens then put on an impressive defensive display with the Women from the West not scoring again until the half hour mark via Coyne. From this tries came in quick succession from number eight Edel McMahon and outside centre Nicole Fowley before the close of the first half.

Galwegians continued to impress in the second half including a hat trick from Mairead Coyne. However, Queens showed their determination as Steffi Clarke, Peita McAlister and Portuguese sevens player Christina Ramos all crossed the white wash.

U.L. Bohemian put 45 unanswered points on fellow Munster rival Highfield, including a brace from Ireland captain Briggs as well as tries from back row Chloe Pearse, centre Deirbhile Nic A Bhaird, wings Kate English and Liz Bourke and Ireland international prop Fiona Hayes.

Wasps started brilliantly against champions Toulon with two classy tries

Analysis: Ringrose, McGrath and van der Flier bursting for Leinster starting roles

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Kate Rowan

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