Highfield 3 - Clonmel 10
AIL Div 1
Highfield ladies fell to a second defeat on Sunday, to Clonmel at Woodleigh park. Clonmel dominated the early territory and Highfield struggled against the elements and against the opposition line-out and maul to get out of their 22. When the score remained 0-0 at the interval however, Highfield looked to have weathered the storm, but a kick and chase from Clonmel's new international squad member Niamh Briggs was inadequately dealt with, and the resulting mix-up allowed Briggs to collect the ball for a touchdown. Briggs continued to win her team territorial advantage with her clearing kicks, and lineouts, normally an area of dominance for Highfield, proved to be a trial for the understrength pack. Eventually Natasha O'Keeffe secured the ball on the blindside of a ruck and crashed home a second try for Clonmel. Highfield rallied to play some of their better rugby for the day, eventually securing a straighforward penalty in the Clonmel 22 for Norita Duggan to narrow the advantage to 7pts. But that was as close as Highfield got, the losing bonus point and some more lessons to take to the training pitch before the next series of matches in a few weeks time.
Highfield 7 - Clanwilliam 12
Div 3 friendly
A very competitive friendly fixture between these teams followed the ladies div 1 fixture at Woodleigh park on Sunday and spectators were in no doubt that this was the fixture worth waiting around for. Clanwilliam had considerably more rugby experience than most of the Highfield players, the majority of whom were playing their first real fixture, but the disparity was not evident in the early exchanges. The pack, led by captain Lisa O'Hea and Aine Firtear took it to the opposition with new players such as Laura Ankettell and Mary Batterbery tackling almost to a standstill whilst the back 3 of Aoife O'Neill, Niamh O'Sullivan and Mags Finn attacked Clanwilliam at every opportunity. Mags in particular demonstrated her range of GAA skills and intelligence in fielding kicks and both running and kicking back on the counter-attack. Gillian Morrissey and Eilish Foley added a bit of experience in the centre, snuffing out some dangerous Clanwilliam runners and made a few breaks of their own, kept moving forward by Louise Duggan, tigerish and alert at scrumhalf.
The score looked to be heading for 0-0 at the break but the greater Clanwilliam experience, added to naive indiscipline from Highfield, allowed Clan in for a converted try near the posts on the stroke of halftime. However Highfield didnâ00t lie down and continued gritty attacks in the second half, led by Aine Firtear and Jeanette Fitzsimons led to a penalty in the Clanwilliam 22, seized upon by the ever alert Claudia Long to register a try for her team. To the amazement of everybody but herself, Mags Finn slotted the difficult conversion to put the sides level going into the last 10minutes. A lapse in Highfield concentration, probably for the first time in the game, allowed Clanwilliam in for a winning try, deserved on the run of play. However nobody was disappointed having partaken in an encounter worthy of any league fixture and a fine start to both sides' seasons in division 3.
Referee Kate McCarthy showed her coaching experience by talking to both teams throughout the match, contributing to the positive atmosphere of the game. It was great to see a woman referee handling the game in such a constructive and competent fashion.