Celtic Challenge Round 4: Wolfhounds 41 Brython Thunder 10

Celtic Challenge Round 4: Wolfhounds 41 Brython Thunder 10
Grace Fisher
Grace Fisher

WOLFHOUNDS 41 BRYTHON THUNDER 10, Scotstoun Stadium
Scorers: Wolfhounds: Tries: Brittany Hogan, Sarah Delaney, Katie Corrigan 4, Niamh Marley; Cons: Nikki Caughey 3
Brython Thunder: Tries: Chloe Thomas-Bradley, Sioned Harries
HT: Wolfhounds 17 Brython Thunder 5

Teenage winger Katie Corrigan weighed in with four tries, including a second half hat-trick, as the Wolfhounds emerged as 41-10 winners over Brython Thunder at Kingspan Stadium.

The scoreboard did not move until Brittany Hogan’s 24th-minute opener, but the Wolfhounds gradually got a grip on the game with further tries from Sarah Delaney and Corrigan to lead 17-5 at half-time.

An Ireland Under-18 international the last two seasons, Corrigan tagged on three more scores in a memorable player-of-the-match performance. Fellow winger Niamh Marley also crossed the whitewash, with the influential Nikki Caughey landing three conversions.

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Brython Thunder battled on and Sioned Harries doubled their try tally before the finish. The Wolfhounds are now unbeaten in four matches and lead the table by five points ahead of today's meeting of Gwalia Lightning and Edinburgh.

Neill Alcorn’s charges, who included Celtic Challenge newcomer Grace Moore last night, will host Gwalia Lightning at Energia Park next Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm – live on RugbyPass TV). It is their final match of the regular rounds before the competition moves on to the play-offs.

The Wolfhounds took their time to get going at the home of Ulster Rugby, as the visitors made some early inroads. Experienced Wales international Shona Wakley won a turnover penalty and then made a break after Hannah O’Connor had failed to gather a lineout cleanly.

Grace Moore and Harries hoovered up turnovers and as the pace of the game lifted, the Wolfhounds advanced downfield. After winning successive penalties, they created an opening out wide but Marley was unfortunate to knock on a Caughey cross-field kick.

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Aoife Dalton got over the try-line on the quarter hour mark, but was penalised for a double movement. It all came from Sophie Barrett’s inviting pass which sent Hogan powering past Wakley and slicing through into the opposition 22.

Playing into the wind, Brython Thunder’s Niamh Terry struggled for distance with her clearance kicks, while Caughey failed to find touch from a penalty. Another Thunder exit did not work out, and they were fortunate when a knock-on denied Grace Moore a try.

The deadlock was finally broken by Ulster’s own Hogan in the early stages of the second quarter. The Wolfhounds opted for another scrum on the back of a set-piece penalty, and their number 8’s big charge off the base saw her score from 12 metres out. Caughey converted.

Despite losing number 10 Terry who had to be stretchered off due to a heavy collision, the Thunder put together some of their best attacking phases. Seren Singleton, replacement Mollie Wilkins and Amy Williams lifted the tempo and exploited some gaps.

Natalia John and captain Alex Callender gained further ground, up into the hosts’ 22, and they went close from a lineout maul before prop Chloe Thomas-Bradley burrowed over to reduce the deficit to 7-5.

That concession brought some more incisive running out of the Wolfhounds. O’Connor, Marley and Hogan all carried well, Corrigan doing likewise to keep the move going, and it was the quick-witted Delaney who managed to reach out and register her fourth try of the tournament.

A Dalton turnover penalty went unrewarded as Caughey missed touch, but the Railway Union star’s last-minute cross-field kick set up Corrigan for a sharp in-and-out run which took her past Amy Williams and over the whitewash.

It got worse for the Thunder just a couple of minutes into the second half. Hogan narrowly avoided a knock-on, allowing Corrigan to pick up the ball and bag the bonus point try from 12 metres out. Credit to the passing in the build-up from a jinking Caughey and advancing full-back Ava Ryder.

The Wolfhounds pack beat a quick path back towards the Welsh team’s try-line, building from a couple of penalties, including one at scrum time. The Thunder responded with a key turnover deep inside their own 22, but could not clear their lines.

Their defence gave way only moments later, as Corrigan, picked out by Caughey’s skip pass, flew past a scrambling Amy Williams for her hat-trick effort out wide. The conversion from Caughey went over off the crossbar for a 29-5 scoreline.

The Thunder had some cruel injury luck again when they lost the services of forwards Finley Jones and Madi Johns. They had nothing to show for a power-packed carry from Rosie Carr, and a five-metre scrum from which Wakley was kept out.

Callender also missed out on a try due to a Singleton forward pass, and when the Wolfhounds – buoyed by a Maebh Clenaghan steal on the ground – returned to the Welsh 22, the carrying of O’Connor and replacements Claire Boles and Megan Collis wore down the defence.

The hard graft of the forwards gave Caughey the chance to kick out to the left wing where Marley gathered the ball, handed off Eleanor Hing and accelerated through to score despite a couple of last-ditch challenges from Meg Webb and Singleton.

Following Caughey’s well-struck conversion to widen the margin to 31 points, Wilkinson surged onto a kick over the top but Thunder replacement Sian Davies was soon tackled into touch on both wings.

With 10 minutes remaining, replacement Abby Moyles’ pass beat the midfield shooters and released Wolfhounds lynchpin O’Connor on a cracking break past halfway.

Donard native Corrigan zoomed up in support and was fed by the Leinster captain to sprint home from the visitors’ 10-metre line, leaving both Amy Williams and Hing in her wake. Moyles’ conversion attempt went narrowly wide.

Callender succeeded in holding up Hogan as she went close to adding an eighth try for the Wolfhounds. The Thunder closed out the scoring themselves, gaining some late consolation when Harries used a Wakley turnover to barge over in the 77th minute.

TIME LINE: 24 minutes – Wolfhounds try: Brittany Hogan – 5-0; conversion: Nikki Caughey – 7-0; 31 mins – Brython Thunder try: Chloe Thomas-Bradley – 7-5; conversion: missed by Amy Williams – 7-5; 35 mins – Wolfhounds try: Sarah Delaney – 12-5; conversion: missed by Nikki Caughey – 12-5; 40 mins – Wolfhounds try: Katie Corrigan – 17-5; conversion: missed by Nikki Caughey – 17-5; Half-time – Wolfhounds 17 Brython Thunder 5; 42 mins – Wolfhounds try: Katie Corrigan – 22-5; conversion: missed by Nikki Caughey – 22-5; 48 mins – Wolfhounds try: Katie Corrigan – 27-5; conversion: Nikki Caughey – 29-5; 62 mins – Wolfhounds try: Niamh Marley – 34-5; conversion: Nikki Caughey – 36-5; 70 mins – Wolfhounds try: Katie Corrigan – 41-5; conversion: missed by Abby Moyles – 41-5; 77 mins – Brython Thunder try: Sioned Harries – 41-10; conversion: missed by Amy Williams – 41-10; Full-time – Wolfhounds 41 Brython Thunder 10

WOLFHOUNDS: Ava Ryder (Railway Union RFC/Connacht); Katie Corrigan (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster), Leah Tarpey (Railway Union RFC/Leinster), Aoife Dalton (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster), Niamh Marley (Dungannon RFC/Cooke RFC/Ulster); Nikki Caughey (Railway Union RFC/Leinster), Erin McConnell (Wicklow RFC/Leinster); Aoife Moore (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster), Sarah Delaney (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster), Sophie Barrett (Enniskillen RFC/Railway Union RFC/Ulster), Eimear Corri (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster), Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster), Grace Moore (Saracens), Molly Boyne (Railway Union RFC/Leinster) (capt), Brittany Hogan (Old Belvedere RFC/Ulster).

Replacements: Maebh Clenaghan (Queen’s University Belfast RFC/Ulster), Megan Collis (Railway Union RFC/Leinster), Christy Haney (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster), Claire Boles (Railway Union RFC/Ulster), Ellen Boylan (Blackrock College RFC/Munster), Jade Gaffney (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster), Abby Moyles (Blackrock College RFC/Ulster), Kelly McCormill (Cooke RFC/Ulster).

BRYTHON THUNDER: Lowri Williams; Eleanor Hing, Ellie Tromans, Meg Webb, Amy Williams; Niamh Terry, Seren Singleton; Chloe Thomas-Bradley, Rosie Carr, Cadi Lois Davies, Natalia John, Shona Wakley, Finley Jones, Alex Callender (capt), Sioned Harries.

Replacements: Amy Morgan, Madi Johns, Katie Carr, Charlie Mundy, Katie Mackay, Katie Bevans, Mollie Wilkinson, Sian Davies.

Referee: Andrew Munce (IRFU)

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