Source: ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Celtic Challenge Round 3 – Report

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 Now that three rounds are complete, we can take stock of this innovative tournament. Standards have varied from very fine to pedestrian, just what you’d expect from sides composed of a few seasoned internationals alongside many youngsters finding their feet.

Two tight Sunday finishes showed the Challenge in its best light. But first Glasgow Warriors had to face their third defeat on the bounce.

Glasgow Warriors v Wolfhounds
Scotstoun, Glasgow, Saturday 13 January

Last week it was red everywhere you looked (except at the refs’ cards!); today it was blue, the only relief was two quarters of white on the Irish shirts.

The Scots enjoyed plenty of possession at the start, Ceitidh Ainsworth making a fine break. Warriors won a penalty, but the resulting line-out was overthrown; Dannah O‘Brien cleared.

Wolfhounds’ first raid featured fine off-loads and a big drive from Sophie Barrett that took them to the line, but good defence forced a knock-on. Could/should Wolfhounds have gone wider?

Another threatening attack did do so, but the referee decided ‘held up’.

A line-out close in led to a first try for Sarah Delaney. When the throw and catch are accurate, the game seems so simple. A fine kick by O’Brien ensured all 7 points. Hounds were right on top, Warriors having to defend solidly.

Within four minutes Hounds had their second, through Linda Djougang, one of the several players to give the Irish an edge in skill and know-how. (0-14) but sadly for her, she was forced off with an arm injury.

At once Warriors got the better of a scrum. Ainsworth made a second longer break, but as the ball came back it was dropped, the story of Warriors’ woes.

A poor pass back to O’Brien ended with her being helped off the field with an injury to her right leg. She was knocked on the head too, but that came as she stooped to collect the low ball, so no infringement.

The break worked to the hosts’ advantage; they built a big attack and Louise McMillan, playing blind-side today, drove for the line and Phaedra Snailham on debut narrowly avoided being tackled by the corner-post. 5-14.

Just before the break another well organised attack allowed Barrett to cross for their third; now it was Nikki Caughey converting.

Half-time: 5-21

Things got far worse for Warriors. They left a hole for Katie Whelan to skate through; she ran hard for the line and Carla McDonald missed a vital tackle. A conversion gained the vital bonus point. 5-28
Wolfhounds maintained their domination through the rest of the game, the pack outpowering the opposition and the team linking well fore and aft. It ensured their third win in three.

Result: Glasgow Warriors 12 Wolfhounds 40

Teams:

Glasgow Warriors: 15 C McDonald, 14 S Phimister, 13 C McLaren, 12 L MacRae, 11 P Snailham,
10 C Ainsworth, 9 M McDonald, 1 A Tucker, 2 N Simpson, 3 E Fleming, 4 E Turner (captain), 5 E
Williamson, 6 L McMillan, 7 L Winter, 8 A Love.

Bench: 16 K Craig, 17 K Fraser, 18 C Brown, 19 S Anderson, 20 I Hannay, 21 H Bogan, 22 R
Clarke (captain), 23 G Chicot.

Wolfhounds: 15 E Durkan, 14 K Corrigan, 13 A Dalton, 12 L Tarpey, 11 N Marley, 10 D O’Brien, 9
K Whelan, 1 L Djougang, 2 S Delaney, 3 S Barrett, 4 K Brady, 5 H O’Connor, 6 E Murtagh, 7 M
Boyne (captain), 8 B Hogan.

Bench: 16 M Clenaghan, 17 A Moore, 18 C Haney, 19 C Boles, 20 J Gaffney, 21 K McCormill, 22
N Caughey, 23 A Ryder

Attendance: 905

Clovers v Gwalia Lightning
Virgin Media Park, Cork

Both sides had a win and a loss to their name, so a tight contest was expected.

The first decisive moment came from a Gwalia peel round front of line-out, fine interlinking saw Gwennan Hopkins over the line. 0-5

On the half-hour Alana McInerney saw yellow for a deliberate knock-on as she tried to stem the Gwalia tide. The immediate result was another line-out try (Molly Reardon), this time breaking on the open-side. 0-10

As the break approached, Clovers at last got a convincing move going; two fine off-loads gave Kate Flannery all the room she needed to dive under the posts. 7-10

Barely a minute later an even better score, as Clare Gorman waltzed on to an inviting pass in space.
So, four tries, two to the Welsh forwards, two to the Irish backs.

Half-time: 12-10

On the return the first chance came to Gwalia. After a careless Irish off-side at a kick-ahead, they tried a repeat of the front peel, but this time the pass to Reardon failed to stick. Then another big build-up was thwarted by a knock-on as the line approached.

The left touch-line was Clovers’ friend as a scoring pass for Lightning was written off. But on 74 minutes Gwalia’s pack managed the first points of the half; try to Tess Evans.

Then more drama: on 79 minutes 50 seconds Clovers equalised. Lightning held a rolling maul, Aoife Doyle was trapped a metre short, but Róisín Ormond forced her way over. Scores equal! Crucially Kate Flannery’s conversion went over from the right.

Result: Clovers 19 Gwalia Lightning 17

Brython Thunder v Edinburgh Rugby
Parc y Scarlets Llanelli

Red against orange in west Wales; the second time the two teams have been tricky to distinguish.
it was another dramatic game. Edinburgh had to work their way back from two scores down. There was more than a hint of a forward pass as Alex Callender made a huge break; she fed Shona Wakely who steamed in under the posts. 5-0

Callender created the second too: somehow the ball fell into her hands; she sped away, then aimed a deliberate grubber to her left. It was gratefully accepted by No 13 Ellie Tromans. (12-0)

The comeback came through the Scottish forwards. They pounded the Welsh line and Panashe Muzambe claimed the score. Nicole Marlow converted. 12-7

A trademark 360 spin by Sioned Harries finished just short of the line, but Edinburgh held her out. Emma Orr made another huge break with a kick ahead that found grass, but Marlow responded bravely to counter.

When Brython fell all over an Edinburgh ball near their own line, Caity Mattinson tapped and was over before you could blink. Marlow’s kick hit the outside of the post. 12-12

Right on the break Amy Williams squeezed in by the left corner-flag to give the home crowd something to warm them.

Half-time: Brython Thunder 17 Edinburgh Rugby 12

The Scots made the vital first score. Their pack was growing dominant; twice more Mattinson was able to tap and go; the second time Freya Walker was over. But a missed conversion meant all was to play for. 17-17

Another important moment: Tromans was deemed guilty of a deliberate knock-on and was shown yellow. Edinburgh profited at once, Cieron Bell going over on the right from a flowing move. 17-22

They failed to make the game safer by missing an easy penalty in front; the ball hit the woodwork, but Brython were coming off second best up front. So they finished up with three losses in a row, joined only by Glasgow.

Result: Brython Thunder 17 Edinburgh Rugby 22 Teams:

Brython Thunder: 15 E Hing, 14 D Mugabe, 13 E Tromans, 12 M Webb, 11 A Williams, 10 N Terry,
9 M Davies, 1 C Thomas-Bradley, 2 R Carr, 3 C L Davies, 4 N John, 5 S Wakely, 5 F Jones, 7 A
Callender (captain), 8 S Harries

Bench: 16 A Morgan, 17 M Johns, 18 K Carr, 19 C Mundy, 20 K Mackay, 21 S Singleton, 22 M
Wilkinson, 23 L Williams.

Edinburgh: 15 N Marlow, 14 N Flynn, 13 E Orr, 12 B McNamara, 11 C Bell, 10 S Denholm
(captain), 9 C Mattinson, 1 P Muzambe, 2 M Whitehouse, 3 M Poolman, 4 F McIntosh, 5 N Logan,
6 M Gunderson, 7 A Stewart, 8 F Walker.

Bench: 16 A Ronald, 17 P Fletcher, 18 K Lindsay, 19 A Ferrie, 20 S Murphy, 21 Brebner-Holden,
22 H Ramsay, 23 R Philipps

The next round doesn’t happen till 27 January.

Results:
Glasgow Warriors 12 Wolfhounds 40
Clovers 19 Gwalia Lightning 17
Brython Thunder 17 Edinburgh Rugby 22

Table                       W       L       Pts

Wolfhounds           3         0        14
Gwalia L                  2         1         10
Edinburgh R           2         1         10
Clovers                     2         1           9
Brython T                0         3           1
Glasgow W              0         3          0

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