Monday 19 March 2018

Brave Connacht come up just short against Leinster

Connacht Ladies star Sene Naoupu on the charge against Munster
Connacht Ladies star Sene Naoupu on the charge against Munster

Leinster 15-5 Connacht

Connacht bowed out of the interpro race at Donnybrook after pushing Leinster to the pin of their collar.

The scoreline flattered the hosts - Connacht were game opponents to the end.

The visitors scored first, with Grainne Coyne touching down from the back of a strong maul.

Both sides were effected by the slippery conditions early on, as prime chances were scuppered by handling errors.

Leinster responded just before the half-hour, when a powerful scrum drew numerous penalties before flanker Jennie Finlay took advantage of the unrest in Connacht's set-piece and powered over to level the scores.

Neither kicker, Clare Raftery for Connacht, nor international opposite number Nora Stapleton, could add any extras from the tee.

Both sides kicked for territory well in open play, and each responded in equal measure on the counter-attack.

Connacht turned down a kickable penalty to tap-and-go, before spilling the ball and gifting a dominant Leinster scrum a reprieve metres from its own line.

Rarely a side to look a gift-horse in the mouth, Leinster's response was to camp for the final six minutes on Connacht's line, but the Greens were equal to the challenge and former international Joy Neville blew for half-time with the sides locked on five apiece


Connacht tired earlier than the Blues after the break, and relentless pressure presented formidable Irish lock Sophie Spence - playing out of position at blindside - an opportunity to blast through a fractured Connacht defence and crash over by the touchline.

In the 56th minute centre Aine Donnelly strolled in for Leinster's third and things looked ominous, although Stapleton, once more, was unable to add the extras.

While the score stalled at 15-5 with 20 minutes to play, both sides had numerous opportunities to add to their tallies in the closing stages.

However, lack of concentration and resolute defending ensured that further scores never materialised.

Leinster's was pack littered with international talent, and they remained busy throughout, with AIL Division One experience across the board a significant factor in their success.

Connacht relied on individual spark in the latter stages, particularly from Edel McMahon, Grainne Egan, Sene Naoupu and Mairead Coyne, but they continued to be blighted by unforced errors.

Going into the final round, joint table-toppers Leinster and Munster face off for the title.

Ulster and Connacht, by contrast, will be fighting to avoid the wooden spoon as they both seek a first victory of the campaign.

Irish Independent

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