Munster women regain Interprovincial Championship

Victory over Leinster sees them pip their great rivals on scoring differential

Munster’s Siobhán Fleming receives the women’s interprovincial trophy at Thomond Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Munster’s Siobhán Fleming receives the women’s interprovincial trophy at Thomond Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Munster regained the Women’s Interprovincial Championship crown by the narrowest of margins after defeating two-in-a-row title hunters Leinster 11-5 at Thomond Park on Saturday.

In Laura Guest’s first season in charge, their second win of the campaign saw them pip Leinster on scoring difference.

With Munster and Leinster finishing with two victories and 10 Championship points apiece, it was the Reds who were crowned champions thanks to their +29 scoring differential, compared to Leinster’s +27.

Connacht also continued their resurgence under new head coach Jarleth Naughton and their 29-7 bonus point victory over Ulster sees them finish on a nine-point tally in third.

Former Ireland flanker Siobhán Fleming was delighted to lift the trophy at the Limerick home of Munster rugby, telling her team-mates afterwards: “I’m so proud, you have no idea, so, so proud. Thank you so much for all you have given.”

Adam Griggs’ Leinster side came into the game in pole position, armed with a three-point lead at the summit. The top of the table clash was tight and tense throughout with both provinces well aware of the various permutations which would secure them the prized Interpro silverware.

With Ciara Griffin, Niamh Kavanagh and goal-kicking scrum half Ellen Murphy leading the charge, Munster built a 6-0 interval lead with Murphy splitting the posts after eight and 11 minutes.

Munster were rewarded for some patient build-up play in the Leinster 22 when former Ireland hooker Gillian Bourke powered over on the end of a 50th minute maul. The conversion was missed and the visitors hit back with a five-pointer on the hour mark, as scrumhalf Ailsa Hughes broke from the back of a maul to touch down.

Resolute defence

Munster’s resolute defence ensured that they wrapped up the result at the end of a compelling Interpro series.

Captained by flanker Gráinne Egan, Connacht finished their campaign in style with an impressive and deserved bonus point win over a youthful Ulster side in Belfast.

Ulster fought hard throughout but were overpowered by the visitors who led 19-0 at the break following tries from star international winger Alison Miller, Jane O’Neill and Orla Dixon. Tullow outhalf Hilary Griffin landed two conversions.

The hosts hit back with a well-taken try from promising centre Brittany Hogan, but Connacht were not going to be derailed. The ever-threatening Miller completed her brace and Ireland-capped hooker Ciara O’Connor, who was arguably the province’s best performer over the three rounds, showed deft footwork to make it five tries for Naughton’s charges.

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