Niamh Briggs plays captain’s part as Munster seal title

Munster 15 Leinster 7 (Ladies Interpro final): A polished performance from international Niamh Briggs led Munster, who had eight from the Highfield club in the starting side, to back-to-back interprovincial titles before a bigger than expected crowd at Thomond Park on Saturday

In a splendid contest, full of flowing three-quarter moves and outstanding forward play, Briggs contributed ten points. But it was her ability to link with those outside which was the crucial factor in a game in which both sets of forwards had spells of dominance.

“They are a very good side and we had to work really hard to come out on top,” said first-time captain Briggs, who has played on five Interpro winning sides.

“I am delighted with our performance and all five wins have been special,” she said when asked if she had a preference for any of the wins.

Munster coach Wayne Falvey echoed his captain’s thoughts. “We had to work very hard out there. We were on top early on but they dominated the last ten minutes of the first half and the first ten of the second. We defended really well at times and I am very pleased with the overall performance. To retain the championship was always going to be difficult and I am very pleased with the performance.”

“The result was disappointing but we defended really well at times and had a few chances,” said Leinster head coach Rob Forbes.

Both sides went into the game unbeaten and it was tied at 7-7 at the interval.

The Munster forwards mauled with great effect and it was from one such effort that the opening try came. Briggs found touch with a penalty, the line-out was won and after a succession of drives prop Leah Lyons peeled over for a try which Briggs converted after 18 minutes.

On the stroke of half-time, Leinster were rewarded for some good work when full-back Jeamie Deacon rounded off a fine move with a try in the corner. Out-half Nora Stapleton landed a touchline conversion to make it 7-7.

Munster stepped up the pace in the second half and there were powerful breaks by Niamh Kavanagh and Laura O’Mahony but they had to wait for a Briggs penalty to put them back in front.

Munster had excellent performances up front from Lyons, Amy Desmond and second rows Roisin Ormond and Elaine Anthony. And the captain rounded off splendid work by the pack to get a crucial second try.

Leinster’s pick were Jeamie Deacon, Amy Cotter and Nora Stapleton in the backs and Orla Fitzsimons, Sophie Spence and Fiona O’Brien up front.

MUNSTER:

V Power; D Nic a Bhaird, N Kavanagh, N Scully, L O’Mahony; N Briggs, E Murphy; F Reidy, A Desmond, L Lyons; R Ormond, E Anthony; S Fleming, C Griffin, H O’Brien.

Replacements, Z Grattage, M Collins, N English, G Coyne, C Pearse, M Fehilly, J Pennefather, E Murphy.

LEINSTER:

J Deacon; J Daly Morrissey, E O’Byrne White, A Donnelly, A Cotter; N Stapleton, A Hughes; F O’Brien, S Lynch, A Egan; C Cooney, O Fitzsimons; S Spencer, J Finlay, P Fitzpatrick.

Replacements AM Rooney, K Dunne, R McElroy, M Holohan, S Fogarty, M Parkinson, S Phelan, M O’Brien.

Referee, H O’Reilly, IRFU.

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