Portlaoise U-18 Girls took their place at the top of the Leinster Division One Table when they played their first return-match of the season against Tullamore at Spollanstown.
In the first leg Portlaoise had beaten Tullamore but it was clear from that game that the sides were well matched with little to separate them.
Portlaoise were missing almost half their regular back line with the forced absence of Tara Buggie, Eimear Corri and Orlaith Phelan but were bolstered by the return of Lauren Roberts.
Tullamore started at a fierce pace and crossed the line under the posts for a try which was converted.
Portlaoise responded well and a move set up by Aoife McNeill and Niamh Riordan put Anna O’Neill through to score beneath the posts. The conversion attempt was narrowly missed.
Tullamore steadied and reapplied the pressure and forced a penalty in a barely kickable position but it was slotted over to leave the score at 5-10 at half time.
Portlaoise hit the ground running in the second half and their opportunity came with Mairéad Keogh, Rebecca Mullen, Eimear Lynam and Robyn Mullen all involved in putting Anna O’Neill through for a second try. The conversion was narrowly missed but the scores were level.
Sarah Culliton dominated in the lineout and maul giving Portlaoise control in the final quarter. From a pass by Emma Startin well outside the 22 metre line, Áine Comphuijsen, in reverse roles, passed to Emma Hooban who raced to the line to score a try in the corner to seal the win
This was a gritty performance by Portlaoise with many players taking leadership in unfamiliar roles.
The referee’s Girl of the Game was Abigail Mullen. Every player gave it their best and Portlaoise took its place at the top of the Leinster Division One Table with the 15-10 win
The second leg against Navan takes place in Togher on Saturday and will test Portlaoise’s consistency.