Munster 6 Leinster 21
Leinster overcame horrendous weather conditions at Thomond Park on Saturday to dethrone Munster as Women’s Interprovincial champions.
Despite torrential rain and howling winds this was a decent affair and while Leinster’s win was deserved, Munster battled to the end.
With the teams backboned by the Grand Slam-winning national side the skill level was impressive in the conditions, which augurs well for their Six Nations title defence next season.
“I am very proud of this performance”, said Leinster coach Rob Forde. “We have conceded only one try in our three Interpro games and our defence was outstanding once again today. I felt we played a very good brand of rugby and deserved the result.”
In contrast, the mood in the Munster camp was a lot more subdued, with both players and supporters believing they hadn’t achieved their potential.
“Devastated is not strong enough a word to describe how we feel,” said coach Gary Walsh. “This is very hard to take, all the more so here at Thomond Park. I can’t criticise the effort, the girls tried to the end and while we do have a lot of youth coming through, this was still a very disappointing day.”
It was only when Munster had fallen 14-6 behind shortly after half-time that they introduced last year’s Six Nations Player of the Year Niamh Briggs, who didn’t start due to injury.
The UL/Bohemian full-back made an instant impression with her lengthy kicking and also handled, passed and ran with her customary skill.
But Leinster were well aware of the threat Briggs posed and their line was rarely in any danger in a half contested largely in Munster territory.
Their supremacy up front was most conspicuous in the tight exchanges and they duly mauled their way over for a 20th-minute try touched down by Ailis Egan and converted brilliantly into the fierce wind by Nora Stapleton.
Centre Ger Rea come into the game as an early Munster replacement and landed two penalties that left a point separating the sides at the interval. However, a pushover try credited to Paula Fitzpatrick within two minutes of the restart and again expertly converted by Stapleton pushed Leinster 14-6 ahead before she then added the points to her try after a promising Munster attack broke down in midfield.
MUNSTER: C Keohane (UL Bohemian); A L Murphy Crowe (Clanwilliam), L O’Mahony (Tralee), N Scully (Highfield), A Doyle (Shannon); M O’Donnell (UL Bohemian), M Fehily (Highfield); F Hayes (UL Bohemian), G Bourke (UL Bohemian), N English (Highfield); H O’Brien (Captain) (Highfield), O Buckley (Highfield); C Griffin (Tralee), S Fleming (Tralee), L Guest (Highfield).
Replacements: L Lyons (Fermoy), K Sheehan (UL Bohemian), L Barbour (UL Bohemian), M Darcy (UL Bohemian), G Rowland (Nenagh Ormond), G Rea (Highfield), N Briggs (UL/Bohemian), A O’Callaghan (Highfield).
LEINSTER: V McGinn (Blackrock); A Ní Chathain (Blackrock), M Claffey (Blackrock), J Murphy (Old Belvedere), J Daly Morrissey (Old Belvedere); N Stapleton (Old Belvedere), T Rossiter (Blackrock); F Coughlan (UL/Bohemian), F Gleeson (Old Belvedere), A Egan (Old Belvedere), O Fitzsimons (St Marys), M Reilly (Old Belvedere), capt, S Spence (OBRFC), P Fitzpatrick (St Marys), S Lynch (Old Belvedere).
Replacements: A Toner (Old Belvedere), AM Rooney (St Marys), R McElroy (Old Belvedere), Al Lowe (Blackrock), C Morey (Cill Dara), SJ Cody (UL Bohemian), S Houston (Blackrock), K FitzHenry (Blackrock).
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