DUFC Women tonight lost their third game in a row, in a 38-7 defeat to Kay Bowan Cup winners NUI Galway (NUIG), in a performance that was strong up until the last 20 minutes.
Following a 22-5 loss away to IT Carlow last week, and a narrow defeat to UCD in Belfield the week before, Trinity were looking to redeem themselves and get their season back on track, taking on NUIG on College Park. Despite generating great awareness of the game via their social media, only a small gathering of spectators braved the cold to witness the team in action.
NUIG started well, kicking the ball deep into Trinity’s half and keeping it there in spite of the efforts of Trinity’s defence. With constant pressure from the NUIG backs, Trinity stayed disciplined and controlled in defence, handling Galway’s efforts and thwarting any threats to their line. Aislinn Glynn and Ashleigh Payne were instrumental in initiating well-timed tackles to slow Galway breaks and relieve mounting pressure on the Trinity defence. While Galway kept most of the possession in the Trinity third of the game and kept constant pressure on Trinity, the Trinity ladies’ movement was quick and deep when they were on the ball, moving quickly from their third to threatening Galway territory.
A Galway injury allowed a sustained break in play just before half-time giving Trinity a much needed chance to rest and regroup. The DUFC women kept warm and showed the fruits of their season training with a group push-up display in front of the posts. The effects of the brief interval rejuvenated the Trinity side, changing the direction of play as Trinity managed to hold the ball in Galway’s half for most of the final ten minutes of the first half. Camille Fayand made good ground, side-stepping defenders with a dangerous run in the closing minutes of the half. With the Galway line in clear sight, Trinity showed great ideas and great intent with their play, but none of these opportunities paid off for them with fumbled catches or ill-timed passes disrupting what may have otherwise been a perfect run of play.
With both sides showing promise and dancing along the try line, the first half ended with no score from either team.
Niamh Byrne’s inspiring half-time talk instilled a new sense of passion in the Trinity women who came off the blocks strongly in the second half. The Trinity number 20 received the ball in her own half, storming up the pitch, taking on defender after defender. Trinity captain, Niamh Byrne, received the offload and burst up the pitch to touch the ball down in the opening try of the game. Prop Payne kicked the conversion and the home side went 7-0 up.
Trinity’s jubilation was short lived with Galway soon scoring a try of their own. The Trinity defence managed to stop the pressing Galway play just short of the line, but only postponed the inevitable, when they soon found space and crossed the line. Without converting, Trinity still controlled the game 7-5 and continued to push toward the Galway line.
Payne broke away from the maul with a great run up the line. Trinity danced along the Galway line with touch and go play but Galway managed to regain possession and clear the ball.
Captain Byrne’s committed tackles and defending took their toll and a collision forced her to leave the pitch temporarily to recover. Galway took advantage of the absence of such an influential player, moving toward the Trinity line and successfully carrying the ball to their second unconverted try, against the flow of play.
Galway took confidence from their second try and their newfound lead on the game, dominating play to the end. The Trinity defensive line was inconsistent in the second half and Trinity couldn’t commit with Galway taking advantage of gaps and breaking through to score multiple more tries. With more disciplined defence, better vision and clinical passing, Galway deserved to reign 38-7 winners.
Trinity will be disappointed they couldn’t take more from this game, but with a promising first-half performance, the ability and commitment is within this team to take on and challenge Ireland’s top women’s rugby universities. With many lessons to be learned from the mistakes of the second half, the DUFC women have much to improve on before their second round of fixtures in the new year.
Correction: 20:42, December 8, 2015
Due to an error in the team sheet provided by DUFC Women, an earlier version of this piece incorrectly referred to the prop who was instrumental in the game. She is Ashleigh Payne, not Sarah Clarke.
Correction: December 12, 2015
An earlier version of this piece referred incorrectly to one of the players instrumental in the game. She is Aislinn Glynn, not Gylnn.