Trinity women’s rugby team lost a frantic and very entertaining exhibition match to the visiting Princeton University at a floodlit College Park last night.
The match, which was played in four 15 minute periods, was decided by the blistering pace of the Princeton backline which allowed them to attack from any field position. Fly-half Jess Lu was excellent as she created space and glided through Trinity defenders all match long. Despite Trinity’s superior passing and strong play from their forwards, it was Princeton’s pace which sealed the victory.
Trinity opened the scoring with lock Elvira Guiomard touching down. A missed conversion left the score at 5-0. Three minutes later loosehead prop Kerry Ryan got over the line despite the efforts of two Princetown defenders. A conversion from captain Molly Boyne put Trinity up 12-0 and it looked like Trinity were about to run away with it.
Princeton responded well to the dismay of the hosts with a stunning try by Fly-half Jess Lu who stole the ball at a ruck in her teams’ own 22 and ran 70 yards to touchdown. This try demonstrated the ever present threat posed by Princeton’s backline. Another try from Lu and one from teammate Coco Wallace put Princeton up 21-12 at the half-time break.
When play resumed the free-flowing nature was stunted a bit but Trinity were still unable to prevent Lu from scoring her third try of the match. Despite Lu’s prolific scoring, Trinity were resilient and continued to attack demonstrating excellent passing technique. Scrum-half Genevieve Ruesch also caused problems for the visitors’ defence, gaining yards every time with incisive runs from rucks.
Trinity prop Jane Leahy was also a constant nuisance for the Princeton defense shrugging off tackles and making consistent gains. However it was Princeton who drew blood next with another breakaway score. Trinity responded well and as Grace Quinlivan touched down just as the rain began to pour down on College Park to make it 33-19 to Princeton.
This try would prove the catalyst for Trinity’s strongest spell of the match as Leahy weaved her way through the princeton defenders to touch down and make it 33-24. During this period Trinity closed ranks on the Princeton backs with tacklers flying off the line to bring down their opponents best attackers.
This stout defensive work allowed Trinity to regain possession repeatedly and at the start of the fourth period they forced their way into the Princeton 22. However, Princeton put an end to the attack forcing a Trinity attacker into touch. However, after Princeton tried to start a maul after the lineout, Trinity players retreated from the maul forcing a penalty. From a tap and go Hooker Claudia Alonso scored bringing the score to 33-29 bringing nerves to the Princeton dugout.
Just as Trinity responded well to Princeton’s spell of dominance, the visitors fought back and scored an unconverted try to make it a two-score contest. Lu proved crucial once more after the restart with another incisive darting run through the Trinity backline. A conversion made it 45- 29 to Princeton leaving the hosts with a mountain to climb with only 5 minutes to go.
Undeterred by the Princeton’s flurry of scores, Trinity managed to get over the line for the last score of the match as Anna Grace completed a fluid move by the Trinity backline.
While Trinity might have been disappointed to give up so many breakaway tries, they put up an impressive attacking display of their own, something to build on in their next competitive fixture