Celtic Challenge Round 2 – Saturday Games

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Celtic voices were unanimous in welcoming the new Challenge as an important step forward.

After the three derbies last week, they got down to the serious business of international contests.
Edinburgh Rugby v Irish Wolfhounds

The hosts started well on top with good combinations, but as they camped on the Irish line, they failed to ensure a ruck was firmly built and lost an important turnover.

An Irish line-out worked well; No 9 Katie Whelan made a long break, but the move broke down. Not so a little later: Edinburgh’s Briar McNamara made another midfield break and fed a lovely back-hand off-load to Emma Orr, who strolled over. 7-0

Wolfhounds’ first big chance came when they attacked well to gain a 5-metre line-out. But – you’ve met the story before – the ball was overthrown and Edinburgh broke clear.

It took the visitors a good twenty miinutes to find their land-legs.

Things went much better for them a second time; Sarah Delaney was on the end of a successful drive. 7-5 Another excellent move saw them over the line, but the referee decreed ‘held up’ as he crouched low to assess.

They had a third thrust, but several phases ended in a knock-on; all very frustrating. Now they showed more patience: a long slow build-up led to a ball sent wide for winger Natasja Behan to dot down unopposed. 7-10

The Scots had a clear-cut chance to regain the lead as McNamara made anothe big break, but this time Orr couldn’t hold her pass. They paid for this error with a second try by Delaney from an attacking line-out. The margin was widening, Wolfhounds in charge over the closing minutes.

Half-time: 7-15

The Irish re-established their dominance straight after the break. Brittany Hogan was over the line inside three minutes. Dannah O’Brien at last had an easier conversion. 7-22

Edinburgh’s play was growing very untidy, passing less accurate and recycling scrappy. By contrast Wolfhounds were building extended moves. One was finished by Aoife Wafer, an increasingly dominant flanker, crossing for a fifth try. 7-27

Into the last quarter, and new faces helped Edinburgh regain some of their early success. Now Cieron Bell rode three strong tackles to cross in the left corner and renew hope. 12-27

The crowd cheered as Orr finished a fine move, but we were already in the last minute.


Player of the Match: Dannah O’Brien

Edinburgh Rugby

15 Rachel Philipps, 14 Hannah Walker, 13 Emma Orr, 12 Briar McNamara, 11 Cieron Bell; 10
Sarah Denholm (captain) 9 Jenny Maxwell; 1 Panashe Muzambe, 2 Nicola Haynes, 3 Molly
Poolman, 4 Fiona McIntosh, 5 Natasha Logan, 6 Gemma Bell, 7 Alex Stewart, 8 Merryn

Bench: 16 M Whitehouse, 17 P Fletcher, 18 K Lindsay, 19 A Ferrie, 20 F Walker, 21 L Brebner-
Holden, 22 N Marlow, 23 N Flynn


15. Ella Durkan (Ulster), 14. Natasja Behan (Leinster), 13. Aoife Dalton (Leinster), 12. Leah Tarpey (Leinster), 11. Aimee Clarke (Leinster), 10. Dannah O’Brien (Leinster), 9. Katie Whelan (Leinster), 
 1. Linda Djougang (Leinster), 2. Sarah Delaney (Leinster), 3. Sophie Barrett (Ulster), 4. Fiona Tuite (Ulster), 5. Eimear Corri (Leinster), 6. Hannah O’Connor (captain, Leinster), 7. Aoife Wafer (Leinster), 8. Brittany Hogan (Ulster)

Bench: 16. Maebh Clenaghan (Ulster), 17. Aoife Moore (Leinster), 18. Hannah Wilson (Leinster), 19. Keelin Brady (Ulster), 20. Éadaoin Murtagh (Leinster), 21. Erin McConnell (Leinster), 22. Nikki Caughey (Leinster), 23. Niamh Marley (Ulster)

Referee: Michael Todd

Other Result:

Clovers 17 Brython Thunder 5 (Energia Park, Dublin)

A young Clovers side gained thir first victory by outscoring the Welsh visitors three tries to one. Ailsa Hughes set the tone as a constant menace to the fringe defences. For her it was snipe and tap and go. This gave her team the forward momentum they needed. Captain Dorothy Wall was missing today, her armband taken by 19-year-old prop Sadhbh McGrath, who set a fine example herself. It was the second half that made the difference; at the break honours were even, 5-5.


Tries: Ailsa Hughes, Ruth Campbell, Sadhbh McGrath; conversion: Méabh Deely; penalty: Méabh Deely

Brython Thunder:
Try: Alex Callender

In this Dublin game we had the novel sight of sixteen people wearing a red shirt. But the referee remained as neutral as he could. With half the Clovers’ quartered shirts also red, colour-blind spectators may have been at a disadvantage. It brings to mind the memorable explanation by the BBC’s David Coleman during a football match long ago: ‘For those of you watching in black and white, Arsenal are in red.’

That leaves one Sunday game: Gwalia Lightning Glasgow Warriors (Cardiff Arms Park)


Not quite the 2,000 who came to watch last week’s derby in Edinburgh, but still a healthy turn-out.
Edinburgh may have paid for their policy of focusing on the next generation, they had six transitional players on view. The influence of the Irish capped players was plain to see.

Two wins in one day for the Irish sides!


Emma Orr was making her debut in this round, as she was a late withdrawal last week through
illness. Jennie Maxwell is still being managed carefully after a 20-month lay-off with a knee injury.

In the opening seconds in Edinburgh the rugbypass cameras twice allowed the ball to disappear
off screen as a pass went out. Are the operators quite unfamiliar with the game? Ah, exactly the
same shortcomings in Dublin. Camera selection was consistently below average.

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