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Defence key as wonderful Wicklow win Metro Cup Final

Rugby, Metro Cup Final: Wicklow 27 Railway Union 7

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Wicklow RFC captain Amy O’Neill is lifted high by her team mates in Ashtown Lane

Wicklow RFC captain Amy O’Neill is lifted high by her team mates in Ashtown Lane

Wicklow RFC captain Amy O’Neill is lifted high by her team mates in Ashtown Lane

Under Friday night lights Wicklow RFC's Senior women shone bright as a strong defensive display got them a hard fought 27-7 victory against Railway Union.

Ashtown Lane played host to another instalment of a rivalry that is becoming one of the best in Leinster women's rugby. These two clubs have had some mighty tussles in recent times, with the visitors getting the upper hand on a couple of occasions this season. This game meant a lot to both teams as they wanted to leave the pitch as Metro Cup Champions.

In the early exchanges both teams showed they were up for the occasion. The Railway girls came out of the blocks quick applying good pressure, but they were met with a hard defence. Fullback Cliondha O'Connor looked very dangerous anytime she got her hands on the ball, her opposing number Ella Roberts was doing her best to find pockets of space also.

It was a very evenly matched opening ten minutes with Railway Union looking comfortable in possession but equally the Wicklow girls looked confident in defence. That hard working defence was rewarded as Hannah-Rose Buckley read the play to intercept the ball as she raced her way to the try-line scoring underneath the sticks for the opening try. Buckley deserved that try as she was choosing the right times to commit up off her wing and linking well with her centres Erin McConnell and Lauren Fahey who were immense in defence all game. It was 7-0.

With a slight wind at their backs the leaders had the momentum. Some good tactical possession kicking by scrum-half Meagan Parkinson put pressure on their opponents as they won a kickable penalty which was slotted over by Sarah Gleeson. 10-0 was the score.

Credit to the Green and Yellow of Railway they responded with a dominant period as there was waves and waves of attack coming at the Wicklow defence, a little bit of ill-discipline too as a few too many penalties were being conceded and with them knocking on the door of the try-line, a quick tap penalty by Christine Coffey got them their first try of the day, she converted her own try making it 10-7.

The Wicklow line speed led by Gleeson and McConnell was something to behold as they were rushing up at pace all together as one forcing the mistakes out of their opponents, from a forced mistake they won a scrum a few metres short of the try-line. Their pack got a massive shove on as they dominated the scrums all game, Parkinson went to the short side passing to Gleeson who did enough to make it to the line and score the try, it was 17-7 at the break.

In the second half that Wicklow wall of defence stayed firm as they controlled the game. Forwards Jessica Schmidt and the Douglas sisters Eimear and Karen all had serious work rates in both attack and defence all night. They firmed their grip at scrum-time, dominating nearly every scrum and the commitment in the tackles was evident for the whole eighty minutes. Led by tackling machine McConnell who was arguably player of the match.

The hosts looked in control but with only a 17-7 lead there was always a chance things could change quickly, but they secured the victory with two well-worked tries. From a powerful rolling scrum, the ball was passed to winger Orla O'Neil as she made a very short distance run to get the try. Impressive substitute Lauren Barry crashed over for the last try of the night as Wicklow played some powerful upfront rugby, it finished 27-7.

The Senior women added yet another piece of silverware to the growing trophy cabinet. It's been a massive two months for the club and their ladies section, winning four trophies at four different age grades, also securing AIL status for the 20/21 season, they're a group from U14 to Senior who are becoming the story of the 19/20 season both in their county and Leinster.

Wicklow: Ella Roberts, Orla O'Neill, Erin McConnell, Lauren Fahey, Hannah R Buckley, Sarah Gleeson, Meagan Parkinson, Rebecca Condren, Amy O'Neil, Eimear Douglas, Caitlin Griffey, Emily Ryan, Rachel Winters, Karen Douglas. Subs: Noelle Ward, Lauren Barry, Aicha El Badoui, Andrea Petru, Rachel Griffey, Clara Jenkinson, Rebecca New, Kayleigh Sullivan.

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