06 Feb 16
First half tries from Sene Naoupu and Sophie Spence laid the foundations as the Ireland Women began the defence of their RBS 6 Nations crown with a well-judged 21-3 victory over Wales.
This was Highfield's second trophy this season as they had already defeated the Limerick girls in the Munster Cup Final.
Their victory goes down to an excellent display by their pack who put their bodies on the line as they halted wave upon wave of U.L. Bohemian attacks in the final ten minutes.
Highfield Scrum half Frances O'Keeffe was involved in everything and outside her out half Norita Duggan controlled the game with some excellent kicking, while center Ger Rea was always dangerous with ball in hand.
U.L. when they did go wide always looked very dangerous with Niamh Briggs and Ashling Hutchins always causing problems.
Highfield took the game to U.L. from the start and after several drives at the Limerick side's line, Niamh English scored following a maul from a line out on the Twenty Two.
U.L. Bohemian came more into the game after this with Briggs and Hutchins posing numerous problems for the Highfield defence.
Briggs missed a long range penalty as Highfield went in at the break 5-0 ahead.
At the start of the second half U.L's pack began to get on top and had Highfield pinned back and hit the front ten minutes into the half. Following a line out on the Highfield Twenty Two the Limerick side mauled the ball towards the goal line and quick ball out the back line saw Ashling Hutchings beat the cover to score and Briggs converted for a 7-5 lead.
Highfield hit back immediately with Norita Duggan restoring her side's lead with a penalty.
From the restart U.L. scored their second try with Hutchins weaving her way through several tackles to score and Briggs conversion made it 14-8.
Highfield to their credit stuck at it with their back row of skipper Heather O'Brien, Dee Lynch and Laura Guest all playing their part in keeping U.L. from adding to their total.
Briggs was off target with a second penalty attempt mid way through the half and in the final ten minutes the game came to life as Highfield worked the ball up field. Dee Lynch knocked on just short of the line but eight minutes from time a drive by the pack resulted in a try with Karen Casey being credit with the score and Duggan converted to make it 15-14.
The Limerick girls responded immediately and try saving tackles by Ger Rea and Frances O'Keeffe denied U.L. scores.
As the game entered injury time Duggan lifted the siege with a long range clearance and from this Highfield won a penalty inside the U. L. half and for back chat referee Dave O'Flynn brought it forward to a kickable position and Ger Rea kicked the points to leave four between the sides.
U.L. did try to rescue it in the remaining minutes but a committed Highfield side held out for a famous victory.
Scorers Highfield: Niamh English, Karen Casey tries, Norita Duggan con, pen, Ger Rea pen.
U.L. Bohemian: Ashling Hutchins 2 tries, Niamh Briggs 2 cons.
Highfield: Eilish Foley; Nicola Aherne, Nicola Scully, Ger Rea, Fiona O'Sullivan; Norita Duggan, Frances O'Keeffe; Donna Hughes, Chris fanning, Niamh English; Orlaith Buckley, Karen Casey; Laura Guest, Dee Lynch, Heather O'Brien (capt). Replacements: Zoe Grattage, Kelly McGuinness, Amy Desmond, Deirdre Fahy, Breda Kenny, Mona Fehily, Clara Bracken, Orla O'Neill.
U.L. Bohemian: Niamh Briggs; Olivia Stapleton, Ashling Hutchings, Mollie O'Donnell, Liz Burke; Nicola Fitzgerald, Charlene Barter' Deirdre O'Brien, Anna Caplice, Maria Eviston; Valarie Mitchell, Shauna McCallan; Fiona Hayes, Kate Sheehan, Leah Barbour. Replacements: Fiona Coghlan, Gillian Bourke, Joy Neville, Jennifer O'Leary, Sarah Jane Coady, Megan Walsh, Niamh Kavanagh.
Referee: D O'Flynn (IRFU).