New year, new cup campaign, same familiar sound of the Yerawaddie ringing out around Thornfield as UCD Women’s Rugby Seniors got 2020 off to a flying start with a 34-5 win over visitors Carlow IT. Tries in the first half from Jenny Dunn, Hannah Woods and captain Christine Coffey gave Collidge a 15-0 advantage at the interval. Dunn scored again in the second half alongside Roisin Crowe and UCD debutant Moya Griffin to secure the win for the home side.
It might not have been the coherent performance that Collidge were looking for-unforced errors and penalties resulted in a very stop-start game. Nevertheless, UCD will take great encouragement from the emphatic return from injury of a host of players- Alix Cunneen, Ruth Sherlock, Jenny Dunn, Rachel Whitten and Tess Meade all coming back with a bang.
Carlow won the possession battle in the opening 20 mins, yet despite a string of penalties were unable to enter the UCD half. Any meaningful Carlow attack was effectively shut down by flanker Emma Costello and second row Anna Potterton, aided by crucial cover tackles from out half Ali Coleman and full back Aoife O’Shaughnessy.
UCD were their own worst enemies at times, ill-discipline starving them of possession and giving them precious little time with ball in hand. With the clock fast approaching the half hour mark, there was mounting pressure for Collidge to put points on the board. Coleman, as always, rose to the challenge and dispatched an inch-perfect cross-field kick to be gathered by winger Dunn and break the deadlock. A maul set up by Coleman and number eight Ruth Sherlock won possession back for UCD and space soon opened up on the left wing, Carlow oblivious to the overlap that Coleman identified until it was too late. Dunn won the footrace with the Carlow defender to dot down just inside the 30-minute mark. 5-0 to UCD.
The attacking instinct of the Collidge pack was clearly evident- prop Clare Coombes and back rows Ciara Byers and Sherlock testing the Carlow defence with significant carries and accurate offloads. It was more than fitting that UCD’s second try came courtesy of second row Hannah Woods. Having taken a quick tap penalty, the home side made short work of the follow up attack, once again exploiting the left wing. With the ruck set just short of the try line, Woods used every inch of her six-foot frame to muscle her way through defenders and double UCD’s lead. UCD were dealt a blow soon after, when hooker Martar Ta departed with an injury, making way for Moya Griffin on her first outing for Collidge.
It was to be 15-0 at the break, this time Coffey the one to cross the whitewash. A steal from Coombes regained possession, allowing scrum half Aoife Byrne to set the forwards off on several phases before the ball found its way to the inside centre. Coffey’s injection of pace brought her past the Carlow defenders and over the line.
The second half was free flowing, which suited right winger Heather Cullen down to the ground. There was a definite sense of excitement every time Cullen got hands on the ball. Her ability to evade tacklers and spark the game into life meant she was a constant thorn in the side of the Carlow defence.
Dunn’s second try came soon after the break. Again, UCD opted to use a tap and go penalty as a platform to launch their attack. Coleman ran a loop off Coffey, releasing the pass before contact to find O’Shaughnessy on her left. The full back then drew the defender before sending Dunn over on the left wing.
Carlow tried to ignite their comeback during their next visit to the UCD half and came away with 5 points of their own, despite being held up over the line by flanker Byers. That score was soon cancelled out by outside centre Roisin Crowe. A solid scrum on the 22 gave the reshuffled back line of Rachel Whitten, Sarah Woodmartin and Aiveen Treacy, an opportunity to run a pre-planned move. Coffey, now at 10, passed to Whitten who was barely on the pitch but instantly found her rhythm. Whitten’s expertly timed pop pass was collected by the onrushing Dunn who in turn passed to Crowe to add the finishing touches and score under the posts. Coffey nailed the conversion, extending Collidge’s lead to 27-5.
Ev Fenlon and Anna Kavanagh were soon introduced as Cunneen and Potterton departed. Potterton didn’t let her slightly dodgy eyebrow stitches affect her game and put in an assured performance in both defence and attack.
The final try of the game came from replacement hooker Moya Griffin. It looked as if Dunn was in for her hat trick on the back of a superb break from fullback O’Shaughnessy, but was unable to evade the clutches of the Carlow defence. Griffin however was on hand to collect from the back of the ruck and score. Coffey once again slotted the conversion to bring it to 34-5.
The final 5 minutes were frantic, neither side showing signs of fatigue. At one point it looked like Carlow were going to break down the wing, but Whitten was on hand to tackle into touch. The ref decided to call it a day moments later, confirming the win for UCD.
The Collidge side will be hoping to build on this promising performance next week as they travel to UL for the second round of cup matches. On the same day our 2nd XV are also on the road, heading northside to face DCU seconds in a must win cup game.
Tries- Jenny Dunn (2), Hannah Woods, Christine Coffey, Roisin Crowe, Moya Griffin
Conversions- Christine Coffey (2)