Sport Rugby

Thursday 12 December 2019

Women have the scent of silverware in their nostrils

Connacht Women V Ulster
Connacht Women V Ulster

Stung by a poor second-half performance in week one, Connacht tore into week two with a vengeance.

Skipper Ruth O'Reilly laid down the gauntlet following their bonus point loss and chased up stern words with a devastating defensive performance against Ulster at the Sportsground last weekend. Such was the ferocity of her first hit it inspired fellow engine-roomers Laura Feely and Rita Breen to rattle bodies at will.

Niamh Ni Dhroma registered the biggest backline bone-jarrer but injury forced her from the field 25 minutes in. Connacht lost little, however, with Lisa McDonagh's midfield arrival, logging her best performance in years and dotted down within six minutes of landing.

Whereas Munster managed 22 points over Ulster, Connacht hit that mark 33 minutes in. They finished it 34 points clear as 39-5 winners. The seven-try rout on home soil ranks as Connacht's most prolific in a decade. Tries to young winger Jill Draper, hooker Ciara O'Connor, McDonagh, left-wing Emer O'Mahony, inside-centre Emma Clery, wing sub Jacqui Mulligan and tireless blindside Marion Sheridan attested to still, dry and warm conditions in Galway.

Luke O'Donnell and George Naoupu now face the enviable prospect of masterminding a championship-winning performance tomorrow in Tralee against a Munster side equally well-poised to take trophy spoils with a win.

Leinster, Munster and Connacht all remain in contention.

Naoupu, O'Donnell and the Connacht Women travel south outweighed, out-experienced and facing a Munster grand slam.

With eight tries under their belt, a points differential two shy of their opponents (and 27 ahead of Leinster), and the smell of silverware in their nostrils - that's just the way they like it.

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