DCU ladies rugby fall in opening game to strong UCD second half performance

Shane Brennan

A fresh faced DCU ladies rugby side fell victim to a disciplined UCD in a 24-5 defeat on the St Claire’s astro, only managing to post a score in the first half.

Showers during the warm-up set up slippery conditions for the games opening phases, both sides having some handling errors in the first 10 minutes as the players battled in the middle third. Both sides forced turnovers and struggled to keep the ball for more than five or six phases.

It was apparent that the first score probably was not going to be a result of a long build up, and sure enough a fantastic counter attacking burst of speed from UCD ended in a try for winger Ali Norman, the conversion attempt by outhalf Christine Coffey successful.

Soon after UCD gained possession again, this time being more disciplined and holding onto the ball well. A huge ground gain by scrum-half Aoife Byrne brought college to within 5 metres, a sweet handoff to Winger Ray Lawless ending in UCD’s second try of the day after just 12 minutes, the conversion attempt missed from a tight angle.

As the game progressed both sides attempted to use brute force to break through the defence, DCU hoping to start a bursting attack of their own. Powerful forwards such as DCU’s Kate Jordan made the game more physical, DCU gained more territory and did a better job of getting into the UCD 22, only to lose the ball as they neared the tryline.

The physicality made way to more missed tackles by UCD, DCU winger Louise McCleery made good ground but couldn’t get DCU over the line. Eventually DCU pressure after the scrum broke UCD’s defence, a turnover on the 22 leading to a try on 20 minutes by Hannah Heskin, who missed the conversion attempt.

The second quarter of the game was relatively uneventful, both sides trading possessions in the DCU half, UCD struggling to add to their 12-5 lead before the break.

DCU applied pressure on the visitors from the off in the second half, their momentum contained only one game stoppage for an injury to UCD prop Geena Behan. As the half wore on DCU went backwards while in possession, a few individual breakthroughs and turnovers by Casey O’Brien and Nicola Gibson proving to be the most productive in the first 10 minutes of the half.

DCU had many promising plays in the final third of the pitch, but couldn’t convert them into scores. Eventually the pressure DCU was applying on UCD waned and the visitors bounced back with a five minute period of their own pressure, which was kick-started by a bad DCU lineout.
Unlike the hosts, UCD managed to turn their pressure into a score, with fullback Aoife O’Shaughnessy touching down for the third try. Coffey missed the conversion attempt.

DCU bounced back with more pressure in the opposition half, showing off their potential for great interplay. However they once again couldn’t get over the line, and a fantastic UCD counter attack spearheaded by Coffey led to UCD’S fourth and last try of the match, touched down by centre Roisin Crowe and converted by Coffey.

After the game UCD manager Alice O’Callaghan said the game “at times got a little bit frantic, a little bit messy” but added that “it was great for the new girls in UCD who get their first cap for the college”. Meanwhile DCU manager Larissa Muldoon looked forward to building the squad, saying that “we have six, seven freshers in the team, it’s a brand new team from last season and especially with DCU entering the Leinster League we’ve lost a few players to the club”.

Shane Brennan

Image Credit: Ruairi Carberry