The Munster Women's team ground out a solid 27-0 victory over a spirited Connacht side at Galway's Sportsgrounds on Saturday. The five try win ensures Munster stays at the top of the Interprovincial standings after two rounds.
The match was a free flowing affair with plenty of scoring opportunities for both teams. Munster dominated the match in both territory and possession, but found it difficult to crack the Connacht defence.
Munster started strongly, camping themselves inside the Connacht 22 for the first 20 minutes. Two scoring chances went begging in that period until Munster finally struck with three tries in a ten-minute stretch. At the 22-minute mark, Munster had a lineout just outside the Connacht 22m line. Outhalf Vivian Boland made a strong run through the Connacht defence then popped the ball to Rosie Foley who made another 10m. Munster got quick ruck ball and spun it wide to the right to Theresa Nolan. The nimble winger still had some work to do, but beat a couple of defenders to score near the touchline. Nolan missed the difficult conversion.
Connacht roared straight back into the game with strong running and sustained ball retention. Connacht looked to have cracked the Munster defence when they had a 3 to 1 overlap inside the Munster 22. However, Nolan was equal to the challenge, reacting quickly by coming off her wing to effect a ball and all tackle on the Connacht ball carrier, snuffing out the threat.
On the 27th minute Nolan, named Munster back of the match, was back in the action. This time scoring after a blistering solo run of 30m from broken play. Again she was unsuccessful with the conversion.
First half scoring was rounded out by Captain, Fiona Steed. From a short lineout inside the Connacht 22m line, the ball was spun wide, Steed came into the backline from depth and sliced through the Connacht defence to score. The conversion was missed and the first half ended with Munster ahead 15-0.
Connacht started the stronger in the second period, taking the game to Munster and dominating the first 10 minutes, however, sound defence never allowed Connacht to threaten the Munster line. Munster's first opportunity of the second half came in the 50th minute. Munster pressure resulted in a scrum 5m from the Connacht line. Scrumhalf Louise Beamish went close from a move off the back of that scrum, but Munster was able to retain possession and strung multiple phases together. Resolute Connacht defence seemed to be holding until Prop Rosemary Brown drove over the line despite the attention of two Connacht tacklers. Nolan was successful with the conversion, making the score 22-0 to Munster after the 54th minute.
Brown, Munster's forward of the match, was again in the thick of the action 13 minutes later when Munster was again pounding close to the Connacht line. This time Brown picked up the ball about 8m out, spun out of one tackle and accelerated quickly to the line, picking up her second try of the match. Nolan missed the conversion and so ended the match scoring at 27-0 to Munster.
Although Munster did dominate most aspects of the match, errors in handling and decision making robbed them of at least four clear-cut scoring opportunities. A solid team performance was enhanced by outstanding games by Brown, Steed, Nolan and Boland.
In the weekends other match, Ulster held out a determined Leinster side, 15-5 in Belfast. Both of those teams are on 5 points to Munster's 9, with Connacht still to register a championship point.
Munster's next match is against Leinster, at Carlow RFC on Saturday September 14, with a 2:30 kick off.
Munster Team Sheet:
Amanda Greensmith (Shannon), Theresa Nolan (Highfield), Patrique Kelly (UL-Bohs) replaced by Jennifer O'Leary (UL-Bohs - 48 minutes), Rachel Tucker (Shannon), Lynn Cantwell (UL-Bohs), Vivian Boland (Shannon), Louise Beamish (UL-Bohs) replaced by Eilis Cowhey (Shannon - 70 minutes), Rosemary Brown (Shannon), Elaine Collins (UL-Bohs) replaced by Regina O'Riely (Shannon - 40 minutes), Edel Coen (Highfield), Aisling O'Brien (Clonakilty), Rosie Foley (Shannon), Monica Dunne (Shannon) replaced by Maria Goff (Waterpark - 65 minutes), Fiona Steed - Captain (Shannon), Wendy Keenan (Shannon) replaced by Joy Neville (Shannon - 65 minutes)
Scoring: Tries: R. Brown - 2 Conversions: T. Nolan - 1 T. Nolan - 2 F. Steed - 1
For further information, contact Rohan West on (086) 6080238