By Katie Byrne
RAILWAY UNION 15 OLD BELVEDERE 18, Park Avenue
Full-back Gemma Matthews struck for the match-winning try from a late five-metre penalty as Old Belvedere ended Railway Union's unbeaten five-match run with a hard-fought 18-15 triumph at Park Avenue.
Railway's lead at the summit was cut to four points after losing the top of the table clash at Park Avenue, a game which they led 10-0 early on thanks to Emma Taylor's second-minute pick-and-go try and a Sinead Taylor score.
It was a hugely competitive contest played in dismal conditions with the majority of play taking place between the two 22s.
Not long after Taylor's try, Old Belvedere began to mount an attack of their own, with Rachel Healy touching down in the corner following an expertly-placed grubber kick from Ulster out-half Jemma Jackson.
Railway struggled with their discipline - an area that head coach John Cronin will want to be much improved for the return match - and a Jackson penalty cut the deficit for 'Belvo to two points at the break.
Increasing the intensity on the resumption, the hosts hit back with a Larissa Muldoon try from a quick tap, but with Linda Djougang in fine form, 'Belvo's dynamic tighthead scored her fourth try of the season before Matthews proved to be the match winner.
Djougang impressed with her physicality, ripping possession from a Railway maul while also making some crucial carries.
ST MARY'S 7 UL BOHEMIANS 45, Templeville Road
Defending champions UL Bohemians have moved back up to second place following a 45-7 bonus point success at St. Mary's, an important result given their losing November trips to Cooke and Railway Union.
After a tough few weeks readjusting to life in the Women's All-Ireland League, St. Mary's will be pleased to have finally managed to break down the opposition's defence, an area of play which they have struggled with to date.
Despite a relentless stream of attacking phases from UL in the opening 20 minutes, the Templogue side stood strong to deny them any early points, with Amy Moran, captain Aoife Moore, Heather Carey and Ciara Scanlan all putting in solid performances.
Poor discipline proved to be costly for the bottom side, however, as they found themselves down to 13 players just before half-time.
Bohemians capatalised on the overlap out wide to tally up four tries, three of which were converted, through captain Fiona Hayes, out-half Niamh Briggs and number 8 Chloe Pearse with two.
Mary's managed to take advantage of Bohs being down to 14 players for a yellow card, as Emma Lackey finished off what was a well-worked team try.
Once restored to their full complement, the Red Robins regained their form of old with Briggs bagging her second try of the evening, along with singles from Rachel Allen-Connolly and Rosie Newton to round off the scoring.
BLACKROCK 17 COOKE 8, Stradbrook
Cooke head coach Wayne Kelly said his players "need to learn to adjust" to what plays out in front of them after a disappointing defeat to a resilient Blackrock team.
Despite registering the first score thanks to a Vicky Irwin penalty after 15 minutes, Cooke butchered a number of golden opportunities throughout the game which ultimately led to their downfall.
Blackrock won a penalty after an initial break by Natasja Behan and number 8 Hannah O'Connor stepped up to kick her side level.
With the momentum shifting in their favour, Philip Doyle's charges pressed from the restart and were reward with a try from Ali Coleman as she used her slick footwork to evade the oncoming Cooke defenders.
O'Connor's conversion gave the Dubliners a 10-3 advantage with 25 minutes on the clock.
Cooke have proven to be clinical up front so far this season, and ten minutes before half-time, they executed a textbook lineout maul with Ireland prop Ilse van Staden adding another try to her already impressive 2018/19 haul.
Cooke defended well early in the second half despite having to spend a lot of time inside their own 22.
A number of knock-ons stifled the fluidity of play, yet with 15 minutes remaining, Blackrock finally caught their break when out-half Niamh Griffin released former Ireland international Jackie Shiels on the wing to score the all-important second try. O'Connor added the extras to cap off a fine performance from her team.