PortDara Falcons 19 Dublin University 5
Leinster Ladies Rugby League
PortDara Falcons welcomed second placed Trinity to Lea Road in the Leinster League on Sunday and a stunning second half team performance saw them securing an impressive victory while denying the high flying Dublin side a losing bonus point.
The home side had the best of the early exchanges and put themselves in a strong field position but failed to capitalise on the score board as the Trinity defence shut down the space that their opponents needed to move the ball wide.
Having soaked up that early pressure, Trinity then worked their way into the Falcons half but a serious of knock-ons caused in part by the horrendous weather conditions gave the home side the opportunity to ease the pressure on them.
As the game moved towards half time Trinity had a further spell of territorial advantage and they used a series of strong short carries to pound away on the Falcons defence.
This relentless attack was met with some excellent tackling from Leanne Caulfield, Siobhán Griffin and Yvonne O’Neill that blunted the student’s efforts. But the referee awarded a series of penalties for off side at rucks and eventually Trinity exploited an overlap to score out wide and take a 5-0 lead into the break.
The second half saw the skies clearing which would have been welcomed by the large home crowd who knew that the drier conditions would suit their side’s exciting passing game.
It very soon became clear that the balance of power was swinging towards the Falcons and their scrum half Nicole Kirwan took control thanks to quick clean ball from her pack and some accurate distribution from the excellent Hannah Mulcahy at out half meant that the Trinity defence started to become stretched.
Outside Centre Orlaith Kiely made some strong gains with ball in hand but it was her centre partner Caoilfhionn Culliton who got the first Falcons score after fifty three minutes.
Another slick passing move created confusion in the visitors’ defence and Culliton quickly pounced as she ran a strong hard line through a gap that allowed her to accelerate away from the cover defence and score under the posts. Mulcahy then added the convertion to give her side the lead.
Trinity responded really well to this set back and went straight back on the attack but again their efforts were repelled with some outstanding defensive organisation from PortDara and big hits from Andrea Broughan, Elaine Slevin and Celeste Cannon while wingers Michelle Maher and Libby Waldron denied their opposite numbers with a continued lock out in the wide channels.
Eventually the defensive efforts were rewarded with a strong turnover from Emma Doolan and the eighteen year old back row player then capitalised on that steal when she burst through the defensive line with a powerful run and couldn’t be caught as she finished under the sticks. Mulcahy again added the extras and the lead was now 14-5 after sixty five minutes.
Again though, the students reacted well to a setback and went in search of a score of their own but they couldn’t find a chink the Falcons armour as the home side continued to work well as a group to maintain their shape and aggressive defence.
Trinity though looked to have found a way around that defence as they put width and pace onto their latest assault only to see their winger put into touch with a perfect side on tackle from Libby Waldron that drew a huge cheer from her side’s supporters.
From the resulting line out, PortDara secured the ball and again went about their business with patience. They moved the ball wide and made yards with every phase of play. Orla O Donovan worked hard from full back as she carried the ball aggressively and although she was denied a line break she managed to make gains and presented the ball wall for her support players which allowed scrum half Nicole Kirwan to maintain the pace and keep her opponents on the back foot. The Falcons again worked the ball wide and a clever kick over the top from Mulcahy put the scrambling Trinity defence under huge pressure.
A ferocious chase from Culliton and Waldron allowed them to secure possession and Culliton then scored her fourth try in two games as she pumped her legs hard to prevent the attempted tackles from halting her progress towards the try line with only five minutes remaining.
With the win now beyond Trinity they went in search of a try that would give them the consolation of a losing bonus point but home side refused to let their intensity levels drop.
Hannah Mulcahy, Sarah Pickford and Siobhán Griffin made some perfectly accurate tackles that defied the tiredness that they must have been feeling and eventually their defensive pressure led to a knock on with the clock in the red and the referee blew for time to the delight of the Falcons players and supporters.
That result sees PortDara continuing their march up the league table and into the top four only three points behind second placed Clontarf who they meet in December.
Following next weekend’s break the Falcons will have another home game against Navan on Sunday November 25th.
The sides shared the points in the opening game of the season and so Dunne’s charges will be hoping that their consistent development will mean that they can take the lot from that game ahead of that showdown with Clontarf in Dublin.