Old Belvedere continued to assert their dominance in Women’s AIL Division 1A by sweeping away a talented Railway Union side in an energetic seven-try performance.
Newly-promoted Railway had started life in the top division brightly, going undefeated through the first four rounds. Hopes were high heading into this top-of-the-table clash.
However, Old Belvedere got off to a breathless start at Park Lane with openside flanker Niamh Fitzgerald dotting down after three minutes. Ireland out-half Nora Stapleton duly converted.
Due to the heavy conditions underfoot, the error count was high and for a spell, the action evened out. Old Belvedere, though, were tenacious and showed their class as World Cup stars Marie Louise Reilly and Sophie Spence combined to assist Stapleton in scoring.
Railway clawed back three points through the boot of Kim Flood.
Before half-time the visitors furthered their lead via a try from the explosive Spence, running wide from a Stapleton pop-pass. The half-time score was 19-3.
Railway Union applied pressure in the early stages of the second half but the league leaders’ defensive effort was immense with back-row players Fitzgerald and Sharon Lynch leading the way.
Fitzgerald then again showed her ability in attack as she scored her second try of the afternoon 20 minutes into the second half.
Five minutes later Railway were defiant as Ireland Sevens star Emma Murphy scored her team’s only try.
In the final ten minutes Old Belvedere were relentless, scoring three more tries. Wing Sinead Fleming got a brace and centre Elise O’Byrne White scored with great flair, aided by another stunning Stapleton pass.
Travelling to Limerick, Blackrock cemented second place in the league with a 15-8 win over a defiant UL Bohemian side.
The visitors’ scores came through tries from full-back Aoife Tyrell, wing Amy Davis in the first half and prop Karla Dunne in the second. Bohs’ scores came via a penalty from international full-back Niamh Briggs and a try from prop Leah Barbour.
Galwegians gave a complete performance both in defence and attack to secure their first win of the competition with a 32-10 success against St Mary’s in Crowley Park.
Highfield ran out 37-7 winners against Tralee in an all-Munster affair at Woodleigh Park.
TWO of Division 1A's form teams were chasing their third wins on the trot and Young Munster came out on top, beating Ballynahinch 29-20 at Tom Clifford Park.
It could be a season-defining result for the Cookies as they are now third in the table, with their latest Ulster Bank League victory seeing them leapfrog five clubs, including defending champions Clontarf.
The Limerick side set a cracking pace and dominated the early exchanges, a rolling maul setting up hooker Ger Slattery for the game's opening try, which centre Gearoid Lyons, who had already kicked a penalty, converted for a 10-0 lead.
Winger Steve Macauley hit back with a well-worked converted try, scoring against his former club, but four minutes later the hosts were celebrating again, with Ed O'Keeffe finishing smartly in the corner. Lyons' conversion attempt came back off the woodwork.
Ballynahinch, with their confidence high from wins over Lansdowne and St Mary's, scored eight unanswered points before the break through a try from Steven Honey and a penalty by Richard Reaney to tie it up at 15-15.
However, Young Munster recovered well to take control of the third quarter, thanks to a seven-pointer from out-half Willie Staunton, although a couple of sin-binnings really hurt 'Hinch and Young Munster's well-drilled forwards made them pay with a penalty try. Lyons added the extras to the bonus-point score.
Flanker Michael Graham went over for an injury-time try, but the conversion failed and Hinch missed out on a losing bonus point.
In Division 1B, eight points from the boot of out-half Jack McDermott proved key at College Park as Dublin University withstood a late charge from Shannon to secure their third straight victory of the campaign (13-7).
Ballymena's five-match winning run was ended by a 13-7 defeat to Malone at Eaton Park, handing top spot to Galwegians, and Buccaneers put their indifferent recent form behind them with a 20-7 triumph away to Belfast Harlequins.