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Wicklow RFC women’s side enjoy historic first win over top-four team

Old Belvedere beaten at Ashtown Lane in Energia All-Ireland Women’s Cup Series

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Wicklow's Roisin Stone on the attack against Old Belvedere.

Wicklow's Roisin Stone on the attack against Old Belvedere.

Wicklow's Jessica Schmidt breaches the Old Belvedere defence to score a try.

Wicklow's Jessica Schmidt breaches the Old Belvedere defence to score a try.

Wicklow Jessica Schmidt wins a line out against Old Belvedere.

Wicklow Jessica Schmidt wins a line out against Old Belvedere.

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Wicklow's Roisin Stone on the attack against Old Belvedere.

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Wicklow 19

Old Belvedere 5

The Wicklow RFC women’s side reached a new height when they recorded another historic victory by beating Old Belvedere 19-5 on Saturday evening.

It’s another important goal achieved by this talented group. It is their first win over a top-four side since their induction into the AIL last season.

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It must be up there as one of their best wins since joining the AIL, another building block onto bigger and better things for this ever-evolving squad who had Sarah Gleeson, Jess Schmidt and Rachel Griffey all getting on the scoresheet.

The last time Old Belvedere visited Ashtown Lane, it was the opening fixture of last season and Wicklow’s first ever AIL contest. That was a difficult night for Jason Moreton’s side, losing 0-63, quickly realising how big the challenge was ahead of them.

16 months on, things are looking very different. Wicklow have firmly settled into life in the AIL, getting into an impressive groove that saw them pick up the conference title before the Christmas break.

Given recent form, home advantage and the fact that Old Belvedere were missing a few key players due to Irish Provinces selection, there was a real sense that this was the ideal opportunity for them to claim their first big scalp.

The home side looked confident early on. Second rows Loretta Gilbert and Griffey both put in big shifts, getting through a lot of work. The centre combination of the Stone sisters, Roisin and Aoibhin looked promising, with the versatile backline player Gleeson moving to fullback to offer a different threat.

In the first half, scores were at a premium, with both teams struggling to create any clear-cut chances. The only score of this period came after about 15 minutes.

Wicklow worked their way into the 22, mounting pressure on the opposition defence. They eventually got over the line, but the ball was deemed to be held up.

The goal line drop out was a poor one and it gave Wicklow the perfect attacking platform at the scrum, just a few metres short of the try line.

They worked the blindside in a clever move. Number eight Niamh Ni Dhroma took it from the base, passing to Erin McConnell who calmly put Gleeson away for the try in the right corner. It was 5-0 and with no further scores in the half that stayed the score going into the break.

At the start of the second half, the visitors came out of the blocks firing, scoring an early try to level the scores. Lesley Ring touching down from close range.

Their momentum was short lived as Wicklow responded in the best way possible. The big boot of Beth Robert’s launched the ball downfield, forcing the knock on from the waiting ‘Belvo catcher.

They had a scrum just outside the red zone. Ni Dhroma making another big carry off the back to earn the hard yards, helping them gain access into the 22.

From this position, they were clinical, putting width on the attack, going right and then left, before the athletic Jess Schmidt spotted the little hole in the defence, to run in for their second try of the game. Roberts kicked the successful conversion.

The influence of Roberts was significant throughout. The young 10 was the calming presence in their attack.

Roberts kicked a vital 50:22 that gave her team another foothold in opposition territory. Some good patient phase play and an equally strong defensive effort meant the Dubliners were pinned in and could not escape.

A huge set piece penalty awarded to Wicklow at the scrum was kicked to the corner. A simple lineout was followed by some strong pick and goes before Griffey edged the ball over the whitewash to score their third try. Roberts made sure of the extras.

It was a very controlled and sometimes dominant performance from Wicklow, who would have been delighted with the result. It is another key objective ticked off the progression list.

WICKLOW: Sarah Gleeson, Naoise O’Reilly, Aoibhin Stone, Roisin Stone, Meagan Parkinson; Beth Roberts, Erin McConnell (Capt); Linda Dempsey, Eimear Douglas, Lauren Barry, Loretta Gilbert, Rachel Griffey, Nicola Schmidt, Jessica Schmidt, Niamh Ni Dhroma. Replacements: Noelle Ward, Niamh O’Leary, Laura Newsome, Leah Murphy, Suzanne Tyrrell, Saoirse O’Reilly, Ciara O’Leary.

OLD BELVEDERE: Aine Donnelly, Finola Collins, Elise O’Byrne-White, Emma Kelly, Ama Addo; Jemma Farrell, Jade Gaffney; Alice O’Dowd, Jennie Finlay, Katie Layde, Elaine Anthony, Caoimhe Guinan, Emma Buckley, Eadaoin Murtagh, Orlaith McAuliffe. Replacements: Aine Rutley, Hannah Wilson, Rachel Murphy, Kate Ballance.


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