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Dublin: 5 °C Monday 20 May, 2019
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Blackrock win East v West battle to continue their 100% start to the season

Wins for Railway, Old Belvedere, UL Bohs and Rock as the Women’s AIL returned.

Image: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Railway Union RFC 56-10 St Mary’s
Cooke 19-34 Old Belvedere
UL Bohemians 37-7 Queen’s
Blackrock 25-10 Galwegians

WOMEN’S RUGBY CAME roaring back after a week-long break with tough battles and a try count higher than an Irish fan’s pulse rate this weekend.

The four games in the fourth round were spread across three days with Railway Union and St Mary’s dazzling under the Friday night lights at Park Avenue to kick off a huge weekend of rugby, that culminated in the clash of early season pace-setters Blackrock with Galwegians in Dublin on Sunday afternoon.

Stradbrook was the setting for an East versus West showdown that opened with a tight first half. The westerners drew first blood with Clare Raff’s 16th-minute penalty putting Galwegians three points in front.

Blackrock struck on the edge of half time. Jessica Belchos was the player with her hands on the ball after a driving maul from a line-out made it all the way to the line. Their advantage didn’t last long however as Nicole Fowley hit back just three minutes into the second half. Quick-thinking and lightning individual skill saw Fowley turn a Blackrock box-kick into a try that Raff converted to make it 10-5 to the visitors.

Five minutes later, Belchos’ second try swung momentum back in Blackrock’s direction and the unbeaten league leaders dominated possession for the remainder of the game.

Mairead Holohan got their third and it was anybody’s guess as to who actually grounded the ball for the fourth Blackrock try but the identity of the kicker who converted the score was clear – Jeamie Deacon.

It is now four wins from four games for Blackrock who travel to Cork to take on Highfield next Sunday.

Seven times the ball was touched down at Thomond Park during Saturday’s battle of the teams with college connections but half a dozen of those tries were scored by the home team, led by Irish Grand Slam-winning captain Niamh Briggs.

The full-back claimed two tries for herself, converting one of her own, and another along with the penalty which sent UL Bohemians into the dressing room with a 20-0 half time lead.

A serious injury to her team-mate Catherine Kirby held the game up for over half an hour as she received medical treatment. Kirby is reported to be in good spirits and will undergo surgery for the leg injury she suffered in Saturday’s game, which the home side won 37-7.

Reigning champions Old Belvedere found the formula for success on Saturday, winning on the road against Cooke.

The home team made a positive start, a converted try giving them a seven point lead after just five minutes, and when Old Belvedere forward Roisin O’Donnell was forced off with an injury two minutes later, the champions looked on the ropes.

However two tries in two minutes, including one from Irish star Sophie Spence, brought Old Belvedere a lead they would not relinquish. Number 8 Spence added her second on 20 minutes which was converted but Cooke got try number two five minutes and that left the score 17-14 in favour of the visitors.

Ailis Egan and Aine Donnelly’s tries ensured that Old Belvedere went into the break with a 13-point lead.

The second half saw the referee flash four yellows at Old Belvedere players but even though the team were down to 13 players at one stage, they refused to give in and held Cooke scoreless until five minutes before the end, when a forward drive resulted in a try for the home team.

On Friday night, underneath the lights and in front of a rapt audience at Park Avenue, Railway Union ran in 10 tries, half of them scored by prop forwards Lyndsey Peat and Shirley Corcoran.

Keen to get in on the action Martina McCarthy, Emma Murphy, Jenny Finley, Elsa Hughes and Kim Flood added a try apiece, with Flood converting three of the tries.

Railway Union had the try bonus point secured after just 20 minutes but St Mary’s continued to fight hard and ensure the home side had to be sharp and clinical to see out the victory.

The Irish provinces scored some stunning tries in the Pro12 this weekend

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Aisling Crowe

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