Combined Provinces make it 3 from 3

18 February 2023

Combined Provinces make it 3 from 3

The Combined Provinces made it three wins out of three in the Celtic Challenge with victory over WRU Development XV at a wet and windy Kingspan Stadium.

Combined Provinces 19 v 0 Wales Development XV

The visitors could have taken the lead inside two minutes, from a lineout the ball was moved infield, winger Amelia Tutt cut through the home defence but ran out of support near the try line and her pass was intercepted by Aoife Doyle allowing the Combined Provinces to clear.

Wales Development dominated territory and possession but the opening quarter remained scoreless, the home’s only chance came from a line break by Doyle but the Railway Union winger was hauled down short of the line.

The Combined Provinces had another chance on 23 minutes as they kicked a penalty into the corner, but the visitors were able to get up at the front of the lineout and steal the throw.

The Combined Provinces started to get a foot hold in the game and were rewarded with the opening try on 27 minutes.

The home side were probing at the line and Wales conceded a penalty, hooker Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird took a quick tap and went over unopposed from close range with out half Dannah O’Brien adding the conversion.

Wales Development dominated the last 10 minutes of the first half but couldn’t breach the home defence.

After conceding several penalties on their own try line Combined Provinces had Nic a Bhaird yellow carded.

The Principality side should have had a try in the last minute of the half after a series of forward rumbles towards the line the ball was spun wide Tutt surged for the corner but a great cover tackle by O’Brien dislodged the ball as the Welsh winger crossed the whitewash.

The final play of the half saw the visitors take a quick tap penalty in front of the posts, but the Combined Provinces got enough bodies under the ball to stop the grounding and Greg McWilliams’ side went into the interval with a 7-0 lead.

O’Brien missed an opportunity to extend the Combined Provinces lead as her 50th minute penalty sailed wide.

Captain Hannah O’Connor nearly got the Combined Provinces second try on 58 minutes, from a attacking five metre scrum the No8 picked up from the based and charged over but the Welsh side prevented her from grounding the ball.

However, the home side were not to be denied and they did cross the whitewash two minutes later, following a series on powerful drives, centre Kayla Waldron stepped the last defender to touch down but O’Brien failed to convert.

Aoife Wafter scored a sensational try to put the game beyond doubt on 72 minutes. The Blackrock replacement got the ball deep in her own half, hit the accelerator side stepped the last defender and glided over the line for the home side’s third try which O’Brien converted.

Asked about the result after the game McWilliams said, “Yeah, I’m very happy. The weather wasn’t great today, it was a messy day but of the three matches this is the one that challenged us the most. We made some critical errors but our defence was good today and it had to be. I would have liked us to score another try and get the bonus point.

“I think our spacing was better, but we’re still looking for a little bit more line speed. I think we could put teams under a more pressure and that’s just part of our learning. But it’s been great to see the progression of the players who came in”

The Combined Provinces head to Scotland next weekend to take on The Thistles in their final game of the Celtic Challenge.

Combined Provinces

Tries: Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird 27 mins, , Kayla Waldron 60 mins, Aoife Wafter 72 mins

Cons: Dannah O’ Brien 27 mins, 72 mins

Yellow Card: Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird 37 mins

Combined Provinces

Ella Durkan, Aoife Doyle, Aoife Dalton, Kayla Waldron, Natasja Behan, Dannah O’Brien Molly Scuffil-McCabe, Sadhbh McGrath, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Christy Haney, Clodagh O’Halloran, Fiona Tuite, Brittany Hogan, Molly Boyne, Hannah O’Connor (capt)

Replacements: Jess Keating for Nic a Bhaird 78 mins, Niamh O’Dowd for McGrath 55 mins, Linda Djougang for Haney 55 mins Claire Bennett for O’Halloran 41 mins, Maeve Óg O’Leary for Tuite 41 mins Ailsa Hughes for Durkan 60 mins, Aoife Wafer for Waldron 61 mins. Meabh Deely