Vodafone Interprovincial Championships: Leinster win over Munster 26-19, setting up final as rematch

Vodafone Interprovincial Championships: Leinster win over Munster 26-19, setting up final as rematch Vodafone Interprovincial Championships: Leinster win over Munster 26-19, setting up final as rematch
Grace Fisher

LEINSTER 26 MUNSTER 19, Energia Park
Scorers: Leinster: Tries: Lisa Callan, Aimee Clarke, Linda Djougang, Ruth Campbell; Cons: Hannah O'Connor, Dannah O'Brien 2
Munster: Tries: Maeve Óg O'Leary, Dorothy Wall 2; Cons: Kate Flannery, Nicole Cronin
HT: Leinster 12 Munster 12

Two tries in each half propelled Leinster into next Saturday's Vodafone Women's Interprovincial Championship final following their first win over defending champions Munster since 2019.

Linda Djougang (49 minutes) and Ruth Campbell (58) produced key scores to steer Tania Rosser's side to a 26-19 bonus point victory at Energia Park. The result means the Blues join Munster on 10 points at the top of the table, and they will meet each other again in the Cork decider.

Connacht, who had stung Leinster with an 18-17 first round defeat, missed out on a place in the final. Their nine-point haul was not enough in the end, despite finishing the round robin stage with a 29-24 bonus point success against Ulster.


Leinster and Munster were locked level on 12 points apiece at half-time after star Munster forwards Maeve Óg O'Leary and Dorothy Wall both crossed, sandwiching Leinster tries from Lisa Callan and Aimee Clarke.

The hosts dug deep in the absence of yellow-carded lock Campbell, restoring their lead through the powerful Djougang before the returning Campbell finished off a terrific break from Vodafone player-of-the-match Aoife Dalton. Dannah O'Brien added two important conversions.

Munster captain Wall capitalised on Molly Boyne's sin-binning to complete her brace, and although there were no further scores, Niamh Briggs' charges will still be confident of winning their third successive Interpro title at their Musgrave Park fortress next week.

A fascinating breakdown battle developed early on in Donnybrook, with young centre Dalton winning a turnover before Deirbhile Nic a Bháird marched Munster forward with a well-won penalty. In between, Leinster captain Hannah O'Connor was short with a penalty attempt.


A monster maul showed the power of the visitors' pack, and despite Leinster turning over their opponents' second lineout drive, it was Munster who took the lead via set-piece platform in the ninth minute.

Nikki Caughey went too high when trying to tackle O'Leary who handed her off to raid straight in under the posts. Kate Flannery's right boot turned it into a full seven-pointer.

A couple of determined runs from Eimear Corri and Djougang got the Leinster attack firing, and hooker Callan's nicely-timed pass had Anna Doyle scooting down the left wing on her seasonal debut.

The home side's patient build-up play through a number of phases was rewarded when Callan used her upper body strength, and the support of Corri, to crash over past Muirne Wall just to the left of the posts. O'Connor levelled with the extras.

The Blues then attacked the blindside off a 19th-minute scrum, releasing Leah Tarpey through a gap but Muirne Wall and Stephanie Carroll combined to force Clarke into touch.

Clarke was not to be denied a second time, as Djougang used Katie Whelan's snipe to invite Corri forward past halfway. The rangy lock beat the first defender again and offloaded for Clarke to outpace Jane Clohessy and bounce up out of Aoife Corey's attempted tackle to reach out for the line.

After O'Connor's missed conversion, Campbell and O'Leary both showed their breakdown skills before the Leinster skipper pinched a lineout. Yet, when Munster got their set piece right within striking distance, the outcome was a second try that squared things up.

Second row Wall stretched out for the line from the middle of a 33rd-minute maul that was greatly enhanced by the newly-introduced Eilís Cahill. Flannery's conversion attempt went narrowly wide on the near right side.

Leinster had to absorb plenty of pressure before the welcome sound of referee Rob McGreer's half-time whistle. He had sin-binned Campbell for what was deemed a trip on the advancing Muirne Wall, yet Munster's subsequent maul was held up.

Replacement out-half O'Brien's connection with the goal-line drop-out was too good and it went straight into touch, but O'Connor disrupted Munster's next lineout and O'Brien's defensive impact at a last-minute ruck forced a crucial knock-on.

Leinster's defence stood up to the task again on the restart, and once they were back to their full complement, they punished a Corey knock-on in brilliant fashion. Whelan went close off a scrum before Ireland prop Djougang - backed up by O'Connor - drove in low to make the line.

O'Brien's sweetly-struck conversion edged inside the far left upright, giving the 2018 and 2019 champions a hard-earned 19-12 lead. As the rain came down, they prevented Munster from responding with some good scramble defence and more disruption at maul time.

Indeed, Leinster pushed two converted scores clear by the hour mark. Dalton battled her way through contact, emerging with a cracking line break. She had the long-striding Campbell up in support to finish off beside the posts, with O'Brien also converting.

Munster were far from finished, though, as all-action number 8 Nic a Bháird lifted them again with her carrying and energy. With Leinster's discipline proving an issue and Boyne slow to roll away, Dorothy Wall capitalised on the yellow to get past Campbell and double her tally.

Replacement Nicole Cronin split the posts with the conversion, pulling it back to a seven-point deficit. Both teams knew what was on the line and really went for it, with Munster fighting to extend their unbeaten four-year run in the Interpros to ten matches.

Entering the closing stages, Clarke matched an Ellen Boylan break with a fine turnover, and Clodagh O'Halloran stole a Leinster lineout. The visitors did create a couple of fast-paced attacks, only for Sarah Delaney to bring down Flannery and it was Doyle who grounded Carroll with a textbook try-saving tackle out wide.

That allowed Leinster to come through Boyne's sin-binning without leaking another score, and O'Brien ate up the seconds with a penalty miss at the very end of a confidence-boosting performance from O'Connor and her team-mates.

TIME LINE: 4 minutes - Leinster penalty: missed by Hannah O'Connor - 0-0; 9 mins - Munster try: Maeve Óg O'Leary - 0-5; conversion: Kate Flannery - 0-7; 18 mins - Leinster try: Lisa Callan - 5-7; conversion: Hannah O'Connor - 7-7; 23 mins - Leinster try: Aimee Clarke - 12-7; conversion: missed by Hannah O'Connor - 12-7; 33 mins - Munster try: Dorothy Wall - 12-12; conversion: missed by Kate Flannery - 12-12; 38 mins - Leinster yellow card: Ruth Campbell; Half-time - Leinster 12 Munster 12; 49 mins - Leinster try: Linda Djougang - 17-12; conversion: Dannah O'Brien - 19-12; 58 mins - Leinster try: Ruth Campbell - 24-12; conversion: Dannah O'Brien - 26-12; 65 mins - Leinster yellow card: Molly Boyne; 65 mins - Munster try: Dorothy Wall - 26-17; conversion: Nicole Cronin - 26-19; 80+1 mins - Leinster penalty: missed by Dannah O'Brien - 26-19; Full-time - Leinster 26 Munster 19

LEINSTER: Natasja Behan; Aimee Clarke, Aoife Dalton, Leah Tarpey, Anna Doyle; Nikki Caughey, Katie Whelan; Linda Djougang, Lisa Callan, Christy Haney, Ruth Campbell, Eimear Corri, Aoife Wafer, Molly Boyne, Hannah O’Connor (capt).

Replacements used: Dannah O'Brien for Caughey (36 mins), Sarah Delaney for Callan (48), Aoife Moore for Djougang, Elise O'Byrne-White for Behan (both 65), Ailsa Hughes for Whelan (69), Whelan for Clarke (76), Sene Taiti-Fanene for Tarpey (79). Not used: Caoimhe Molloy, Katelynn Doran.

MUNSTER: Aoife Corey; Ellen Boylan, Alana McInerney, Stephanie Nunan, Stephanie Carroll; Kate Flannery, Muirne Wall; Róisín Ormond, Ciara Farrell, Fiona Reidy, Dorothy Wall (capt), Claire Bennett, Jane Clohessy, Maeve Óg O'Leary, Deirbhile Nic a Bháird.

Replacements used: Eilís Cahill for Reidy (30 mins), Clodagh O'Halloran for Bennett, Chloe Pearse for Clohessy (both half-time), Nicole Cronin for Flannery (51), Flannery for Nunan (53), Beth Buttimer for Farrell, Clohessy for O'Leary (both 67), Gillian Coombes for D Wall (67), Abbie Salter-Townshend for M Wall, Aoibhe O'Flynn for Boylan (both 71), Reidy for Ormond (72).

Referee: Rob McGreer (IRFU)

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