The Connacht Women salvaged some pride from their 2015 interprovincial campaign beating Ulster 15-12 in Portadown on Saturday. The victory, while far from flawless, was the most complete of the three, said co-coach Luke O’Donnell.vUlster1300px

“It was a bit of a dogfight played across the length and breadth of the park, Ulster scored first, we hit back a couple of times to go five ahead and then they took the lead with about 18 or 19 minutes to go.

“I told them they only needed one perfect passage of play to get back on top, and they delivered it from the kickoff. The girls strung several phases together, created an overlap and Emma Clery (12) gassed two and crashed over a third to go 15-12 up with quarter of an hour left.”

Far from finished however Ulster spent the final eight minutes camped on the Connacht line but the visitors held firm in still, warm conditions and snagged third place on the interpro leaderboard behind champions Munster and runners-up Leinster.vUlster2300px

“Defensively we’re pretty solid, it’s certainly something we worked on but we fought very hard to score interpro tries this year, none of them came easily,” O’Donnell added.

A 43-5 pre-season rout of an Ulster selection in Athlone four weeks ago was a far cry from the final fixture in the north over the weekend, more so an improvement from the hosts rather than a Connacht regression.Neither Munster nor Leinster struggled to post big scores against Ulster, 43 and 38 respectively and given the pre-season hit-out Connacht was shaping up to do similar.Captain O’Reilly was circumspect following the final whistle and laid out a few well-worded home truths.

“We promised so much and worked so hard, but we still didn’t turn it on when it counted against Leinster and Munster. You cannot afford to have an off-day in this competition. The calibre is so high, and the interpro schedule so short.vUlster3300px

“Take this experience back to your clubs and impose your own high standards at practice and gametime. Your job now is raise their game and lead by example,” she said.

Connacht 15 (Senetima Naoupu, Mairead Coyne, Emma Clery tries) beat Ulster 12, (Jemma Jackson, Grace Davitt tries, Jackson conv), HT 10-5

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