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Teams close in on domestic titles in Ireland and Scotland

Ireland Women

Teams in Scotland and Ireland made huge strides towards their domestic titles in another bumper week of women’s rugby.

In England, all the top teams were given tests while France saw a shock result in Pool 1 of the Elite 1 Féminine.

Top Four begins in Ireland

Ireland international Sene Naoupu could not stop her Old Belvedere side suffering a whitewash at the hands of Blackrock College as the Top Four format of the Energia All-Ireland League kicked off.

The home side earned an impressive 16-0 win over the side who finished one place below them in the regular season.

Maeve Óg O’Leary and Natasja Bejan were the two try scorers for Blackrock as they took the lead in the Top Four conference.

The other game was much narrower as first took on second from the regular season, but it was top side Railway Union who took the win.

Former Ireland star Lindsay Peat went over for the home side’s first try as they emerged 14-10 winners at Park Avenue.

In the Conference of the bottom six sides, Galwegians took an early lead thanks to a 36-3 win over Wicklow.

Final rematch in Scotland

Watsonians were runaway 39-0 winners over Stirling County as they comfortably reached the Tennent’s Women’s Premiership final.

And they will have a familiar opponent as they look to defend their title as they prepare to face Hillhead Jordanhill who they met in the 2019 final.

Hillhead came through a tougher battle, winning 25-17 against Corstorphine, while the 5th/6th play-off between Heriot’s Blues and Cartha Queens Park was postponed due to Covid cases.

Grenoble shock Stade Francais

In the Elite 1 Féminine in France, there were some one-sided results, the biggest seeing Blagnac Sporting Club defeat Chilly Mazarin 41-0.

In muddy conditions, international Melissande Llorens opened the scoring for the home side, one of six they ran, as Gabrielle Vernier also found herself on the scoresheet.

On Sunday, bottom side Grenoble Amazones pulled off a shock result as they defeated Stade Francais Paris who sit third in Pool 1.

The home side raced into a 10-0 lead at half-time, with Océane Millot Chevrey going over either side of the break as Grenoble came away 24-8 winners.

In Pool 2, Lyon Olympique triumphed 30-7 over Lille Metropole, with Les Bleues’ Annaelle Deshayes’ try in the 46th minute kickstarting the dominant win.

ASM Romagnat were led to victory by two French internationals with Caroline Thomas crossing twice for the home side, while Jessy Tremouliere added seven points with the boot in a 27-10 win over AC Bobigny.

Exeter win at the death

The tight battle at the top of England’s Allianz Premier 15s continued as Saracens fought valiantly for a 27-12 win over Loughborough Lightning.

Six Nations Player of the Championship in 2021, Poppy Cleall was the star of the show for the away side, scoring twice, with England internationals bagging all the points.

Saracens reclaimed the top spot in the table after Bristol Bears had come away 48-7 winners against a battling DMP Durham Sharks buoyed by the RFU’s newly announced involvement in supporting the struggling North East side.

Gloucester-Hartpury were made to work for their 17-3 win over Sale Sharks with Red Rose Connie Powell scoring one of Gloucester’s three tries.

Exeter Chiefs mounted a late fightback to do the double over reigning champions Harlequins winning 18-17 at the death.

Former England international Chloe Edwards had opened the scoring for Quins before Zintle Mpupha’s first try for the Chiefs move the home side into the lead.

Scotland’s Jade Konkel ensured Harlequins went into the break on top and while the visitors got a third try they could not stop Hope Rogers from going over for a debut try before Patricia Garcia held her nerve to kick the winning penalty.

The other game in England between Worcester Warriors and Wasps was called off after the matchday ambulance failed to arrive.