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Leinster Rugby 3 - 21 Munster Rugby
Donnybrook, Dublin,
Saturday 18th Dec 2010

Leinster and Munster took to the Donnybrook field on a bitterly cold Saturday afternoon to contest this season's Interpro title. Both sides had beaten Connacht and Ulster comprehensively in the previous rounds and it was a winner takes all match to decide the destiny of this year's title.

As was the case last season, this match was rearranged due to bad weather and there must surely be a case for holding the series earlier or later in the season. There was immense pressure to get this match to go ahead as a lot of the women involved are in Ireland training for December and into the 6 Nations in the New Year.

The match itself seemed to be affected by the weather with numerous handling errors, no doubt as a result of cold fingers. It seemed honours even in the scrum, but in the lineout Munster had a significant edge. Leinster were pinged for several crooked throws and this disrupted any momentum they tried to create.

Munster missed an early penalty but shortly afterwards took the lead. Securing possession from a lineout Munster mauled the ball towards the Leinster tryline and hooker Christine Fanning went over to open Munster's account. Having missed the opening kick Niamh Briggs fared no better with the conversion and the score remained 5-0 to Munster.

Munster doubled their lead around the half hour mark with Sarah Jane Cody scoring a try following a nicely worked move. Briggs again missed the conversion and so the score remained 10-0.

Just before half time Leinster got themselves a foothold in the match with some territory and were rewarded with a penalty. Nora Stapleton proved reliable with the boot and the half drew to a close with Munster leading 10-3.

Leinster wouldn't have been too unhappy with the halftime score having taken their only chance and would have no doubt wanted to get out of the blocks fast in the second half. However it was Munster who drew first blood with Laura Guest catching Leinster cold with a try inside the opening 5 minutes of the half. Although Briggs again could not convert Leinster were facing a 12 point deficit and an uphill struggle.

To Leinster's great credit they dominated much of the remaining half with a lot of ball deep in Munster territory. Leinster's best chance came with the award of a penalty deep in the Munster half. Rather than kick points or opt for a scrum, the lineout was the preferred option. The lineout was continuing to malfunction however and Munster were able to clear their lines.

Crossing the try line proved to be the hardest yard for Leinster and having weathered the storm Munster began to gain territory again and were awarded two late penalties. This time Briggs found her range and she struck both over the bar to stretch out Munster's lead to 18 points.

With the match in the bag, Munster emptied their substitute bench with 5 late introductions. The Leinster team resisted the temptation to do the same.

Overall Munster were worthy and comprehensive winners and showed why they have been Interpro titlists for 5 seasons in a row.

Women's rugby takes a break until the New Year when the AIL leagues will resume in January and the 6 Nations campaign kicks off in February when Ireland play Italy in Rovigo.

Match Statistics

Leinster Rugby
Ulster Rugby
Teams Gill Nolan 15 Niamh Briggs
Katie Fitzhenry
14 Niamh Kavanagh
Nora Stapleton 13 Mairead Kelly
Michelle Ross 12 Geraldine Rea
Ciara Kennedy 11 Sarah Jane Cody
Paula Fitzpatrick 10 Helen Brosnan
Amy Davis
9 Louise Beamish

Ailish Egan 1 Laura Guest
Sarah Crosby 2 Christine Fanning
Emer McManamly 3 Gillian Bourke
Mary Louise Reilly
4 Heather O'Brien
Rachel Vickers 5 Karen Casey
Sinead Ryan (C)
6 Louise Austin
Laura Haley 7 Siobhan Fleming
D O'Brien
8 Joy Neville (C)

by Sarah Lennon, © 2010-12-21