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Munster take step towards title

Munster took a giant step towards winning the Irish Interprovincial title with a narrow 7-0 win over Leinster in round two of the competition.

What Leinster and Munster's close encounter may have lacked in abundant scoring was more than made up for with the defensive masterclass on display from both teams.

The match's only try came midway through the first half on the back of a terrific lineout maul from Munster.

Openside flanker Ciara Griffin, whose work-rate throughout the match was immense, secured the throw, with back row colleague and Ireland international Laura Guest dotting down. Outside centreGer Rea converted from a tricky angle.

Leinster's openside Jennie Finlay was yellow carded by referee Helen O'Reilly and missed the opening minutes of the second half.

The Munster girls, coached by Wayne Falvey, capitalised on Leinster's absentee with a period of persistent attacking in which the Blues defended heroically.

Munster prop Leah Lyons was sin-binned after the hour mark. Leinster then spent the remainder of the game camped in opposition territory. It was now Munster's turn to be step up in defence.

Despite replacement tighthead Leah Barbour seeing yellow, Munster concluded the match as they had done last week against Ulster, keeping Leinster scoreless. They will aim for a hat-trick of wins in next Saturday's title decider against Connacht in Tralee.

A contrasting clash was played out between the Connacht and Ulster Women's sides with eight tries scored at the Sportsground on Saturday.

Unfortunately for the visitors seven of these were scored by an imperious Connacht outfit. The hosts were relentless in launching wave upon wave of attack with fantastic link play between their forwards and backs.

The try scoring was opened by Connacht winger Jill Draper after 20 minutes, with a second coming seven minutes later from Galwegians hooker Ciara O'Connor.

Further first half tries from Emer O'Mahony and replacement Lisa McDonagh followed. Out-halfClare Rafferty missed three out of four first half conversions.

Ulster's young side showed their tenacity when loosehead prop Ilse van Staden scored their sole try when she dived over the line after a series of pick and goes five minutes from half-time.

The Luke O'Donnell and George Naoupu-coached westerners enjoyed another purple patch at the start of the final quarter, scoring three tries in a ten-minute period.

Rafferty did not manage to convert the tries scored by Emma Clery and Marion Sheridan but added the extras when replacement Jacqui Mulligan scored the final try of the match.

LEINSTER WOMEN: Vikki McGinn (Blackrock College); Aoife Tyrrell (Blackrock College), Elise O'Byrne-White (Old Belvedere), Claire Ryan (Railway Union), Janice Daly (Old Belvedere); Aine Donnelly (Cill Dara), Ailsa Hughes (Tullamore); Ruth McElroy (Old Belvedere), Ann-Marie Rooney (St. Mary's College) (capt), Fiona O'Brien (Old Belvedere), Ciara Cooney (Tullow), Orla Fitzsimons (St. Mary's College), Katie Norris (Blackrock College), Jennie Finlay (Navan), Sharon Lynch (Old Belvedere).

Replacements: Joanna Mahon (County Carlow), Tanala Kehoe (Portlaoise), Aoife Maher (Railway Union), Niamh Fitzgerald (St. Mary's College), Mairead Holohan (Clondalkin), Meg Parkinson (County Carlow), Amy O'Neill (Blackrock College), Kim Flood (Railway Union).

MUNSTER WOMEN: Mairead Kelly (UL Bohemians); Deirbhile Nic A Bhaird (Highfield), Ger Rea (Highfield), Nicola Scully (Highfield), Ashling Hutchings (UL Bohemians); Laura O'Mahony (Tralee), Mona Fehily (Highfield); Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians), Amy Desmond (Highfield), Leah Lyons (Fermoy), Maeve Darcy (UL Bohemians), Elaine Anthony (Highfield), Roisín Ormond (Highfield), Ciara Griffin (Tralee), Laura Guest ((Highfield) (capt).

Replacements: Kate Sheehan (UL Bohemians), Maura Collins (Abbeyfeale), Leah Barbour (UL Bohemians), Gerda Coyne (Highfield), Maria Eviston (UL Bohemians), Ayesha Roche (Tralee), Mollie O'Donnell (UL Bohemians), Amy O'Callaghan (Highfield).

CONNACHT WOMEN: Mairead Coyne (Galwegians); Jill Draper (Tullamore), Emma Clery (Galwegians), Niamh Ni Dhroma (Buccaneers), Emer O'Mahony (Tralee); Clare Rafferty (Galwegians), Mary Healy (Galwegians); Laura Feely (Galwegians), Ciara O'Connor (Galwegians), Ruth O'Reilly (Galwegians), Rita Breen (NUIG), Catriona Cassidy (Portlaoise), Marion Sheridan (Tuam/Galwegians), Heather Cary (Galwegians), Grainne Egan (St. Mary's).

Replacements: Jean Moore (Portlaoise), Edel Durkin (Tuam), Edel McMahon (NUIG/Galwegians), Niamh Dempsey (Tralee), Lisa McDonagh (Galwegians), Nicole Fowley (Sligo), Jacqui Mulligan (Sligo).

ULSTER WOMEN: Peita McAlister (Queen's University); Vicky Irwin (Ormskirk), Gemma McCutcheon (Queen's University), Stacey Sloan (City of Derry), Emma Jordan (Queen's University); Jemma Jackson (Queen's University), Imogen Porter (Queen's University); Ilse van Staden (Belfast Harlequins), Janine Mullan (Queen's University), Nikita Armstrong (Cooke) (capt), Sorcha Chipperfield (Cooke), Lizzie Ballentine (Cooke), Noreen Nethercot (Enniskillen), Beth Creggan (Cooke), Lauren Maginnes (Queen's University).

Replacements: Sabrina Higgins (Carrick), Lesley Megarity (Belfast Harlequins), Alanagh Chipperfield (Belfast Harlequins), Shirelle Wilson (Cooke), Laura Johnston (Cooke), Steffi Clarke (Queen's University), Emma Rea (Cooke), Rebecca Smyth (Belfast Harlequins).