Rebuilding DCU squad struggle to pass IT Carlow

Ruairí Carberry

Carlow Institute of Technology beat the DCU ladies’ rugby side with considerable ease as early scoring aided their way to a 40-27 win, despite a late surge for DCU.

On a showery night in Carlow the game began as it would eventually go on, even in the set piece, beset by handling errors and with plenty of space in the backfield.

The first demonstration of all these came after three minutes; DCU came to within two metres of the tryline thanks in part to great ground gain from centre Sophie Gibney. However a knock-on by DCU meant that the games first scoring chance ended in a scrum for Carlow.

The scrum itself was disciplined and neither side was overpowering, but IT Carlow scrumhalf Nicole Kirwan released winger Jane Ryan after the scrum, Ryan finding space to run from behind their own 22 to score the games first try under the posts, leaving an easy kick for Natasja Behan to convert.

After the restart DCU showed some promise, highlight plays including stealing an IT Carlow lineout and good box kicking to bring the play to the five metre line. However Carlow stole a DCU lineout at the five, but the momentum was gained again after fullback Kirara Kasahara ran well to bring the ball and the pressure back to Carlow’s defence.

After a short series of plays number eight Nikki Gibson brought the ball over the line, however it seemed that a try was prevented, but after a long discussion by the referee a penalty try was awarded to DCU, the conversion attempt missed by Sophie Gibney.

For the remainder of the half the momentum of play swung Carlow’s way, a converted try soon after the restart was followed by a fantastic piece of play by Aisling Brosnan, who broke a tackle and released Bethany Sharpe on the left wing for an excellent try before the half, which ended 19-5 due to the missed conversion attempt that followed.

DCU needed to begin the second half strongly to have a chance of unsettling the home side in search for victory, but the opposite happened as IT Carlow scored straight from the off. DCU couldn’t control the ball after the kick off, and 2 phases later flanker Jessica Schmidt was over the line to secure the bonus point try for carlow, which Behan duly converted.

It went from bad to worse for DCU, great inter-linking play from the back trio of Sharpe, Brosnan and Meabh O’Brien made great use of space and missed tackles by DCU, culminating in a try by Brosnan who found a gap at the halfway mark to run i the sore, which was again converted by Behan.

DCU struck back, however, to seize their second try, making great use of the brawn and strength of the forward line as they went to the maul to finish off a fine period of play, the conversion attempt missed by Gibney from a difficult angle.

IT Carlow then went 40-10 ahead before the 60 minute mark, DCU again losing possession after the kick-off to invite Carlow pressure, which ended up in a try by forward Michelle Femmi, the conversion good once again from Behan.

DCU improved on many aspects of their game for the rest of the match, the previous trend of missing tackles and needing multiple players to make a successful defensive stop seemed to be replaced by stronger tacking. This renewed momentum inspired a powerful display by the forwards to drive over DCU’s third try, touched down by Makayla McCormack and converted by Gibney.

With time running low DCU looked to come out of the game with a bonus point, and did so right at the death, a strong period of play behind the IT Carlow 22 finished as McCormack, filling in the number eight role in the scrum, picked the ball up from the scrum to cross the 5 metres that separated DCU from their bonus point.

DCU then ended the game with a fifth try, a fantastic pass to Eimear Corri gave her space to run on the left wing to touch down in the corner, the difficult conversion attempt only barely missed and was last kick of the game. The late surge displayed the potential this DCU team have, but was too little too late to gain anything more than a bonus point.

Shane Brennan

Image Credit: Ruairi Carberrry