Mighty Munster win Women’s Interpros on scoring difference

Munster regained the IRFU Women’s Interprovincial Championship crown by virtue of scoring difference after defeating 2016 champions Leinster (11-5) at Thomond Park on Saturday.

Mighty Munster win Women’s Interpros on scoring difference

In Laura Guest’s first season in charge, their second win of the campaign saw them pip Leinster - but only just.

With Munster and Leinster finishing with two victories and 10 Championship points apiece, it was the Reds who were crowned champions thanks to their +29 scoring differential, compared to Leinster’s +27.

Connacht’s resurgence under new head coach Jarleth Naughton continued on the day with the westerners’ 29-7 bonus point victory over Ulster seeing them finish on a nine-point tally in third.

Former Ireland flanker Siobhan Fleming captained Munster to a remarkable victory and told her teammates: “I’m so proud, you have no idea, so, so proud. Thank you so much for all you have given.”

Adam Griggs’ Leinster side entered the game in pole position, armed with a three-point lead at the summit. The top of the table clash was tight and tense throughout with both provinces well aware of the various permutations which would secure them the prized Interpro silverware.

With Ciara Griffin, Niamh Kavanagh and goal-kicking scrum-half Ellen Murphy leading the charge, Munster held a 6-0 interval lead with Murphy splitting the posts after eight and 11 minutes. Leinster were foiled by a couple of knock-ons, but a late break involving Nicole Carroll and Sene Naoupu, two newcomers to the squad this season, raised their hopes ahead of the second half.

Munster were rewarded for patient build-up in the Leinster 22 when former Ireland hooker Gillian Bourke powered over on the end of a 50th-minute maul.

The conversion was missed and the visitors hit back with a five-pointer on the hour mark, as scrum-half Ailsa Hughes broke from the back of a maul to touch down.

Leinster had the majority of possession in the closing stages with number 8 and captain Paula Fitzpatrick leading by example. Prop Lindsay Peat came close to touching down but knocked on, and Munster’s resolute defence ensured that they wrapped up the result at the end of a compelling Interpro series.

Meanwhile, Connacht finished their campaign in style with an impressive and deserved 29-7 bonus point win over a youthful Ulster side in Belfast with Alison Miller, Jane O’Neill, Orla Dixon, Ciara O’Connor and Hilary Griffin on target for the winners.

Scorers for Munster:

Try: Gillian Bourke; Pens: Ellen Murphy 2

Scorers for Leinster:

Try: Ailsa Hughes

MUNSTER WOMEN:

Laura O’Mahony (UL Bohemians); Laura Sheehan (UL Bohemians), Aine Staunton (UL Bohemians), Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohemians), Syphonia Pua (UL Bohemians); Rachel Allen (UL Bohemians), Ellen Murphy (Old Belvedere); Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians), Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians), Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemians), Siobhan McCarthy (Railway Union), Chloe Pearse (UL Bohemians), Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians), Siobhan Fleming (Tralee) (capt), Anna Caplice (UL Bohemians).

Replacements:

Leah Lyons (Highfield), Maura Collins (Tralee), Zoe Grattage (Highfield), Roisin Ormond (Ballincollig), Edel Murphy (UL Bohemians), Christine Arthurs (Highfield), Valerie Power (Shannon), Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (UL Bohemians).

LEINSTER WOMEN:

Nicole Carroll (Suttonians); Aimee Clarke (Railway Union), Aine Donnelly (Old Belvedere), Michelle Claffey (Blackrock), Susan Vaughan (Railway Union); Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere), Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union); Lindsay Peat (Railway Union), Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union), Fiona O’Brien (Old Belvedere), Aoife McDermott (Railway Union), Orla Fitzsimons (St. Mary’s), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere), Ciara Cooney (Railway Union), Paula Fitzpatrick (St Mary’s) (capt).

Replacements:

Jennie Finlay (Old Belvedere), Caoimhe Molloy (Gorey), Christy Haney (St. Mary’s), Rachel Horan (CYM), Meg Kendal (Railway Union), Megan Parkinson (Wicklow), Meaghan Kenny (Railway Union), Maria Kenny (Old Belvedere).

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