Munster Women opened their Interprovincial campaign in impressive fashion with a bonus-point win against Ulster at the Kingspan today.
An eight-try performance and impressive defensive display ensured a 50-5 win against the northern province, setting them up nicely as they welcome Connacht to Musgrave Park for Round 2 next Saturday at 7.30pm. Buy tickets online here.
Prop Chloe Pearse starred with three tries in a Vodafone player-of-the-match performance, while there were debut scores for Muirne Wall, Chisom Ugwueru and replacement Aoife Moore.
Second row Siobhán McCarthy also got amongst the first half tries, with the best of them coming from Kerry’s whippet-like scrum half Wall who scorched 65 metres downfield from her own tap penalty.
Matt Brown’s side broke the half-century barrier in the end, as Ulster conceded eight tries – including newcomer Moore’s 78th-minute closer.
Vice-Captain Nicole Cronin and Rachel Allen were on kicking duties with Cronin adding three conversions and Allen closing out the game with two. The out-half also crossed the white wash for a well taken try in the second half.
Captain Beth Cregan’s 31st-minute effort was the lone response for Ulster, who trailed 26-5 at the break.
Brown’s first game in charge of Munster got off to a dream start. Just two minutes and 16 seconds in, Pearse picked off the deck to crash over. Nicole Cronin supplied a well-struck conversion from the right.
Munster’s crisp attacking was rewarded again in the 18th minute, their captain Sarah Quin brought down short before McCarthy was able to muscle over, with Edel Murphy on the latch.
Despite losing winger Laura O’Mahony to injury, Munster continued to threaten, and Wall blazed through from her quickly-taken penalty – taken just outside the Munster 10-metre line.
Cronin’s conversion made it 19-0, giving Ulster a huge mountain to climb. A powerful 26th-minute lineout drive showed what they could do, although some of their best first half work was undone by costly penalties.
They did get on the scoreboard when Tuite’s defence-splitting run, and then another carry closer in, led to Cregan’s successful dummy and lunge for the try-line.
However, Munster made sure to have the final say before the break. Some nice passing from Wall, Cronin and Stephanie Nunan had Ennis’ Ugwueru beating the final defender near the left touchline.
Cronin fired over a fine conversion for good measure, and the tries kept coming for the Quin-led Reds in the second period.
Only 39 seconds had elapsed when Pearse completed her brace, following up on Murphy’s initial break from her own half and Allen’s support line.
The sidestepping Nunan created the space for a determined Cronin to squeeze over by the left corner flag in the 53rd minute. The out-half was unable to convert her own try.
Cregan was guilty of not rolling away on the hour mark, earning 10 minutes in the sin bin.
A rip in the tackle by Allen saw Munster move the ball wide for replacement Maggie Boylan to fly down the right wing. Some quick recycling followed and Pearse went over unopposed from a ruck to complete the hat-trick.
In Cronin’s absence, Allen chipped over the conversion and added the extras to the victors’ final try.
The freshly introduced Deirbhile Nic A Bhaird wormed her way through before Pearse helped Moore to smash her way over beside the posts.
Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship Round 1 Round-Up
Chloe Pearse was named Vodafone Player of the Match.
Eleven players made their debut – Aoife Corey, Chisom Ugwueru, Stephanie Nunan, Muirne Wall, Aaliyah Te Pou and Maeve Óg O’Leary all started, while Aoife Moore, Eimear Minihane, Gemma Lane, Aoife O’Shaughnessy and Maggie Boylan were introduced off the bench.
Laura O’Mahony sustained a foot injury in the first quarter.
Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship: Munster v Connacht, Musgrave Park, 7.30pm; Buy Tickets Here.