Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Another 2013 trophy for Leinster

Belvo & Rock played major roles in Leinster Women’s Interpro success, writes Sarah Lennon…

Women's Rugby column

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The schedulers had organised it correctly and Munster took on Leinster in Thomond Park in a winner takes all finale to this season’s Interprovincial series.

In the lead up to this match Leinster had secured a 36-0 win over Connacht and a 41-7 win over Ulster with thirteen tries scored for the concession of just the one. Likewise, Munster had two victories coming into the match with a 31-7 win over Connacht and a close fought match against Ulster winning 15-7.

On the face of it there was little to choose between the teams. Munster are the reigning interprovincial champions and were looking to defend that title on their home patch. Leinster’s first two matches in the series had been very convincing and when they secured the Interpro title 2 season’s ago it was on Munster soil.

One hint as to the form of the teams was to be found in the AIL Division 1 table. The league stage had suggested that a shift away from the traditional Munster team’s stronghold has begun. UL Bohemian from Limerick have traditionally been the ladies team par excellence but an unprecedented hattrick of defeats saw them finish the league stage in fourth. Highfield in Cork do retain their seemingly perennial runners up position but it is the results of Old Belvedere who contributed 12 players to the Leinster panel and the resurgence of Blackrock ladies saw nine representatives in the squad that have caught the eye.

The team to face Munster had an entire Old Belvo & Blackrock backline and 5 of the 8 in the pack were from Old Belvedere. Munster on the other hand had representatives from 7 different clubs. When Munster were dominating this series they relied heavily on UL Bohs for players and it was the familiarity and cohesion that made them as strong as they were. Leinster were hoping that the club form translated into the Provincial team.

As would have been expected, the match was a very close affair in the first half, with the weather playing its part. Both teams were cheered on by a sizeable crowd and Leinster have attracted a dedicated away following this season as they had two matches on the road. The reliable boot of Ger Rea of Highfield had struck two penalties to capitalise on Munster’s territorial dominance but the Belvo’ pair of Maz Reilly with a try and Nora Stapleton with a conversion secured a 7-6 lead for the ladies in blue.

As has been the trend in the series so far, Leinster went for the jugular in the 2nd half and Paula Fitzpatrick and Nora Stapleton crossed the white line for two converted tries and an insurmountable 21-6 lead. Maz Reilly, the Leinster captain for the second season in succession lifted aloft the Interprovincial trophy.

Leinster have blended an exciting combination of fresh, new players this season with the more experienced heads and we will be looking forward to seeing a number of these ladies in green come the 6 Nations.

Click here for match highlights from Munster v Leinster

Sarah Lennon (@sarahlennon08) is passionate about all things rugby. A Leinster Season Ticket holder since the Donnybrook days, a supporter of the Irish teams home and abroad and can regularly be seen cheering on Junior Rugby at Stillorgan RFC (a labour of love). As well as spectating, she dabbles in playing a bit and is a member of Old Belvedere RFC and fully paid up member of the front row union.

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