After two wins on the trot the Galway girls were feeling confident heading to Limerick to take on college rugby kingpins UL last Thursday. Last year saw NUIG draw with UL in Dangan and go down by 2 points in the return fixture to UL. The 2012-13 league final finished up at 12-7 in favour of UL.
In the first half of the fixture NUIG seemed to use those results as their motivation, retaining the majority of the territory and possession. The NUIG pack’s driving game was working well in the opening quarter, front row Lizzie McKeever often leading the charge. With the ground work done up front, outhalf Rhona Julian put the first points on the board in a try that demonstrated her fine footwork and running strength. The new look Galway backline was making good yardage with backrower Heather Cary turning her hand to backs play for the fixture.
The first of what was to be 4 yellow cards in the game was produced shortly after 30 minutes. The referee followed through on a threat after repeated high tackles sending a UL player to the bin. While NUIG appeared to be on top in the opening half the sides were closely matched with a superb try saving tackle from fullback Eliza Kelly preventing the Limerick women from getting on the board. Half time saw the score 5-0 in NUIG’s favour.
UL pressure and ferocity at the breakdown started to expose the Galway side in the second half and it wasn’t long before a penalty in front of the posts gave UL flanker Chloe Pearse the opportunity to put three points up in ULs favour. She made no mistake with a strong kick from outside the 22.
NUIG’s Brid Reddington was next in line to spend 10 minutes in the bin, again for repeat infringement regarding high tackles.
UL capitalised on an exposed blindside to score next through winger Paula McCarthy. Not content with a three point lead UL struck again shortly after this, this time through Pearse, who spotted the gap and ran a great line to beat the fullback and dot down under the post. The conversion brought the score to 15 – 5 in UL’s favour. This was to be the final result but not without one more from each side spending 10 minutes in the bin for high tackles, Louise Fitzgerald the one who took the punishment this time for NUIG.
While both sides were well matched UL’s killer instinct at ruck time saw NUIG loose many yards and possession repeatedly. NUIG’s inability to adapt to the refereeing of the breakdown may have been the difference. While NUIG can be pleased with most elements of the performance they’ll rue allowing discipline have such an effect on the score line.
NUIG will meet UL again in Dangan in Febuary.
Photos by Tony Burke Sports Photography