A conversion from the boot of UL’s Orla Curtain proved to be the difference on the scoreboard as the hosts held on for a narrow 12-10 victory over UCD in the second round of the SSI Tier 1 Cup.
It was the Limerick side that had the brighter start and stormed into a 12-point lead in the opening minutes. Straight from kick-off the Collidge side found themselves pinned in their own 22 and the characteristically solid carries from the strong UL pack piled the pressure on the UCD defence. The hosts eventually bundled over for the first try of the game and a deserved 5-point lead. The visitors soon found themselves under the posts again after conceding a very similar try. With a more favourable angle, the UL kicker made no mistake in slotting the conversion this time round, and the Collidge contingent were faced with an uphill battle to get back in the game.
Key turnovers from Tess Meade and Ali Coleman coupled with big hits from Ruth Sherlock and Anna Potterton provided the catalyst for the momentum shift in the game before half-time. The UCD attack started to find a foothold in the game on the back of this improved defensive effort and began to stretch the UL defensive line and work the way up the pitch. Some excellent link up play and passing from forwards such as Clare Coombes and Moya Griffin tested the line integrity of the UL defensive line and the UCD pack, lead by second row Hannah Woods, strung together long stretches of UCD dominance. One of the best opportunities of the half came from a moment of magic from fly-half Ali Coleman, whose line-break left the UL defence scrambling to halt the dangerous attack. The tireless ruck work of Potterton and Rachel Winters paid off, and after a period of sustained pressure in UL’s half a flowing attacking move released centre Róisín Crowe for her first try of the evening.
UCD continued to impose their defence in the second half with great line speed and ball pressure from Alix Cunneen. Emma Costello, who lined out on the wing, brought all her backrow experience to contribute dominant tackles to the relentless Collidge defensive effort and her fellow winger Rachel ‘Munster’ Whitten snuffed out potential UL attacks down her side of the pitch. UL were reduced to few opportunities in the second half and but for a few mistakes, UCD could have scored a lot more. UL’s Curtain had an opportunity to stretch their lead and make it a two-score game with a penalty from distance which fell just short of the target. Aoife O’Shaugnassey brought a wealth of experience to the UCD back three and added real pace to attacks on the edge of the UL defence. Replacements Eimear Douglas, Ciara Byers and Geena Behan contributed turnovers and physicality off the bench, while Laura Carroll and Anna Kavanagh assisted in the retention of possession. Ray Lawless had an exciting return to the starting line-up and her centre partnership with Blackrock teammate Crowe created many opportunities for the travelling side. With 30 seconds left on the clock UCD had one last opportunity to salvage a result from the game. Some excellent carries from the forwards broke down the UL defence and freed the UCD backline, Crowe grabbed her second try of the night in the corner, on this the last play of the game, to add to her impressive tally for the season. UCD kicker Christine Coffey’s conversion peeled narrowly to the left and she was unable to tie the game.
The Collidge girls can take great pride in their performance, their ferocious defensive effort. This game will give the team good confidence going into the remaining cup games and in what will hopefully be a repeat of this fixture in Limerick in the final. Special mention to Niamh O’Dowd on what is hopefully the first of many starts for the senior side.
UCD: 15 Aoife O’Shaughnessy; 14 Emma Costello; 13 Roisin Crowe; 12 Ray Lawless; 11 Ray Lawless; 10 Ali Coleman; 9 Christine Coffey; 1 Alix Cunneen; 2 Moya Griffin; 3 Claire Coombes; 4 Hannah Woods; 5 Anna Potterton; 6 Rachel Winters; 7 Theresa Meade; 8 Ruth Sherlock. Replacements: 16 Laura Carroll; 17 Eimear Douglas; 18 Geena Behan; 19 Maeve Moran.
Next: Kay Bowen Cup at Maynooth 12/02