Clinical Munster gear up for likely title showdown with Leinster at Musgrave Park

Niamh Briggs' side had an impressive 34-0 win over Ulster in Cork in the first round
Clinical Munster gear up for likely title showdown with Leinster at Musgrave Park

Munster's Kate Flannery kicks a conversion. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

NIAMH Briggs and Tania Rosser are both targeting more rounded performances from their teams when Munster and Leinster meet on Saturday in a potential Vodafone Women's Interprovincial Championship title decider.

Defending champions Munster are back at Musgrave Park for the second-round duel, fresh from beating Ulster 34-0 in their first competitive game under new head coach Briggs.

They bagged their bonus point inside 31 minutes, with Claire Bennett and Vodafone player-of-the-match Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird going on to score two tries each and Briggs able to unload her youthful bench, handing out six new caps.

Munster's Maeve Óg O’Leary offloads the ball despite Fern Wilson of Ulster. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo
Munster's Maeve Óg O’Leary offloads the ball despite Fern Wilson of Ulster. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

It was a positive first outing for the Reds but the visit of Leinster, who ran out 38-10 bonus point winners over Connacht, is sharpening minds as the arch rivals prepare to collide in Cork.

"I'm happy with the first 40 minutes for sure (taking a 22-0 lead)," admitted Briggs afterwards. "We got sloppy for a huge part of that second half. I'm really proud that we finished out with a good score.

"Keeping any team to nil is probably the most pleasing aspect. For us going forward, we've got to be better than that, we've got to be way more clinical.

"I thought the young girls that came on did really, really well today, I was really, really pleased with that. It gives you a lot of confidence for next week.

"We've definitely got to work on a few issues around our defensive structure and our tackle tech. For now, we've just got to be delighted with the win, delighted with the nil points and also the fact that we got to cap six players."

Munster head coach Niamh Briggs speaks to her team after the win at the weekend. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo
Munster head coach Niamh Briggs speaks to her team after the win at the weekend. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Briggs' 2013 Grand Slam-winning team-mate, Rosser, was happy to officially get her Leinster coaching tenure up and running a full year after she was appointed to the role.

19-year-old pair Dannah O'Brien and Aoife Dalton, the player-of-the-match, stood out as Rosser's charges put a misfiring opening 30 minutes behind them.

Jenny Murphy, who teamed up with Tullamore youngster Dalton in the centre, bagged two tries, while Ella Roberts, Anna Doyle and replacements Elise O’Byrne-White and Katie Whelan crossed the Connacht line too.

Only 14-3 behind at the break, Connacht rallied when Nicole Fowley's well-weighted kick picked out Orla Dixon for a try, but the hosts delighted the vast majority of the Energia Park crowd with two closing scores.

Giving her assessment after the game, Rosser said: "I'm happy with it. Sure the first was a bit of a mess, but the girls came together, the start of a new system and they played well, and let loose in the second half.

"I think we just need to stop forcing the passes - build into the game rather than just going with the offloading game all the time. I think that let us down in the first half.

"It's a new system and we just need to clean up a few things and get clarity on the breakdown and stuff like that."

With a total of ten debuts on the day, including O'Brien and Dalton, the former Ireland scrum-half added: "It's exciting to see how the younger players are stepping up. I'm looking forward to seeing what the next two games brings for them. They all played well, I'm just super delighted for them."

FIXTURES:

SATURDAY: Munster v Leinster, Musgrave Park, 12.15pm Ulster v Connacht, Kingspan Stadium, 2.30pm. 

SATURDAY, January 21: Connacht v Munster, the Sportsground, 1pm Ulster v Leinster, Queen's University Upper Malone, 5.30pm.

Scorers for Munster v Ulster: Tries: Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird 2, Stephanie Nunan, Aoife Doyle, Claire Bennett 2; Cons: Nicole Cronin, Kate Flannery.

MUNSTER: Aoife Corey (UL Bohemian RFC); Aoife Doyle (Railway Union RFC), Stephanie Nunan (UL Bohemian RFC), Enya Breen (Blackrock College RFC), Laura Sheehan (Exeter Chiefs); Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemian RFC, c), Muirne Wall (UL Bohemian RFC); Róisín Ormond (Ballincollig RFC), Kate Sheehan (UL Bohemian RFC), Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemian RFC), Clodagh O’Halloran (UL Bohemian RFC), Claire Bennett (UL Bohemian RFC), Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College RFC), Maeve Óg O’Leary (Blackrock College RFC), Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (Old Belvedere RFC).

Replacements: Chloe Pearse (UL Bohemian RFC) for Nic a Bhaird (half-time), Kate Flannery (UL Bohemian RFC) for Cronin (43 mins), Nic a Bhaird for Sheehan, Eilís Cahill (UL Bohemian RFC) for Reidy (both 52), Heather Kennedy (Ballincollig RFC) for Sheehan, Ciara Farrell (UL Bohemian RFC) for O’Halloran (both 60), Geena Behan (UL Bohemian RFC) for Ormond, Gillian Coombes (Ballincollig RFC) for Bennett, Alana McInerney (UL Bohemian RFC) for Breen (all 71).

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