Ulster U18 Girls saved their best performance until lastm defeating Munster 5-31 at MU Barnhall in the final round of the Inter-Provincial Series on Saturday afternoon.
Ulster were under pressure from Munster for the first 5 minutes with a big Munster pack dominating the breakdown. Lisa Mullan cleared her lines with a kick over the Munster backs, before Ulster stole the ball in the ruck, spreading it wide to Sophie Kinghan on the right wing, who took the ball to the Munster 22 meter line. The recycle was good, Lucy Turkington took a pop pass and burst through to score Ulster’s opening try under the posts, converted by Lisa Mullan.
Ulster then soaked up relentless Munster pressure for the next 10 minutes. Ulster worked their way up the pitch, spreading the ball from one wing to the other, looking for gaps in the Munster defence. After 24 minutes, Munster were deemed offside in the middle. Rather than opting for the kick at goal, skipper Katie Hetherington took the penalty quickly and spread it to Lucy Turkington who took out one defender and passed to Amanda McQuade who made the gap for Aoife Cahill to score 15 metres in from the corner flag. Lisa Mullen added the additional 2 points to give Ulster a 0-14 lead. Just before the interval, Ulster had a scrum in the middle of the pitch. Spotting the space was down the left side, out-half Lisa Mullan took the ball at pace, went through her opposite number and scored to make it 0-19 at half-time.
Munster started the second half in a similar manner to that of the first. From a lineout at the halfway line, a planned move brought in their blindside winger Maggie Boylan, who spotted the gaps in the Ulster defence and ran 40 metres to score Munster’s try. This gave Munster hope and they raised their game, throwing all but the kitchen sink at Ulster. Inside the Ulster 22, Amanda McQuade stripped the ball in the tackle, took off and made 15 metres, taking Ulster out of danger. She popped the ball to Kelly McCormill who made another 20 metres before offloading to Lisa Mullan who made the remaining 40 metres to the Munster try line being hunted down by the Munster wingers. She converted her own try to make It 5-26.
Ulster now looked comfortable, having that confidence of soaking up all Munster could throw at them. With a strong breeze blowing left to right, Ulster’s skipper Katie Hetherington opted to run the penalties, popping the ball to the wrecking machine in the form of Ella Garland who always made ground with the ball in the hand. Lisa Mullan spread it wide and India Daley used her strength to drive over the final 10 metres with two Munster defenders clinging onto her for the final score of the game.