Portlaoise RFC 19
Leinster Rugby Girls U16 Cup Final
Portlaoise played the first ten minutes of the game inside the Wicklow half of the field, working their way inside the Wicklow line and looking promising to get the first score of the game.
However, Wicklow had other ideas and were on the hunt to turnover the ball and exit their danger zone - which is exactly what they did. After 20 minutes of play, Wicklow crossed the white line for the opening try of the game, leaving Portlaoise on the back foot.
Less than five minutes later, a dominant Wicklow scrum and missed tackles from Portlaoise, Wicklow touched down again. Portlaoise had made many line-breaks, most coming from their backs that looked like promising try-scoring opportunities only to be tackled short of the line.
With half-time approaching, Portlaoise’s’ day went from bad to worse when hooker Abi O’Rourke was yellow-carded following a mistimed incident leaving Portlaoise trailing 19-0 and now down to 14 players.
With a lot of work to do in the closing half, the Portlaoise girls hit the ground running. Portlaoise looked a changed side in the second half with harder tackles and faster line speeds, making for much better rugby than the first half.
Portlaoise full-back Rebecca Pearsons displayed her ability under the high ball and claimed everything that came her way, while scrum-half and captain Katie Donoghue showed her skill around the scrum to put her Wicklow counterpart under severe pressure at any opportunity.
The Portlaoise pack were now working as a unit with hooker O’Rourke returned from her sin-bin. With a kicking game was now underway, there were plenty of lineouts to be won. Both Portlaoise jumpers Poppy Mullen and Grace Molyneux dominating in the air.
Unfortunately, after keeping the second-half scoreless for the first 15 minutes, two handling errors by Portlaoise allowed Wicklow to score two tries in quick succession to leave the score at 31-0.
The Portlaoise team never gave up and through great hands in the backline and hard running by the forwards, Portlaoise openside flanker Karen Dunne found herself over the white line for their first try of the day.
With seven minutes left on the clock, Portlaoise again found themselves inside the Wicklow half and after much pressure forced Wicklow to concede a penalty. From the resulting scrum, Portlaoise’s strong pack crashed over the line with Dunne again providing the finish.
Time was catching up with Portlaoise’s revival, and with Wicklow down to 14-players for a high tackle, some fast hands from Garinne Keogh, Edel Deegan and Rebecca Pearsons allowed Portlaoise in for their third try - again compliments of Dunne as she completed her hat-trick.
The game finished up 31-19 in Wicklow’s favour as they held out for a deserved victory.
Team: Hannah Schiller, Abi O'Rourke, Fiadh McCann, Poppy Mullen, Roisin Bracken, Emma Tuohy, Koren Dunne, Grace Molyneux, Katie Donoghue, Orlaith McNamara, Holly Murtagh, Grainne Keogh, Noelle Byrne, Kim Fitzpatrick, Rebecca Pearsons, Edel Deegan, Tara Byrne.
*Browse through the photo gallery using the arrows in the top right-hand corner of the main photo above
*Photos by Ramsay Cardy/Sportsfile