Wolfhounds one win from Celtic Challenge title

Eimear Corri has insisted the Wolfhounds will take nothing for granted when they travel to Hive Stadium to take on Edinburgh Rugby, needing victory to get their hands on the trophy. You can watch the Celtic Challenge play-offs live on RugbyPass TV.

The Wolfhounds head to Hive Stadium on Saturday knowing that victory against Edinburgh Rugby would be enough to claim the Celtic Challenge 2023-24 title, keeping the trophy in Ireland for a second successive year.

The Irish side begin the play-offs four points clear of their hosts at the top of the standings, having won all five of their matches so far, including a 27-17 triumph away to Edinburgh in round two.

With the six-team league splitting in two for three final rounds of action, and with points from the regular season carrying over into the play-offs, it means only Edinburgh and the Clovers can stop the Wolfhounds.

A home victory on Saturday would blow the title race wide open, and potentially lift Edinburgh above their visitors into first place with only one match to play for both teams.


Wolfhounds second-row Eimear Corri admits “it would be amazing” to get her hands on silverware for a second time, having been a part of the Combined Provinces XV squad that claimed the inaugural Celtic Challenge crown last year.

But she and her team-mates won’t take anything for granted when they arrive at Hive Stadium.

“We know how close it is between ourselves and Edinburgh at the top of the table,” Corri said.

And asked if their round-two victory in Hive Stadium gave the squad confidence of getting the win they need on Saturday, she added: “It does but you never want to be too comfortable.

“It's going to be a different set of players on both sides of the pitch, I guess, and you never really want to play them at their home. The atmosphere was unbelievable the last time we were there, but no doubt that will spark them on as well.

“So, we're very aware of how the last game went, and definitely we've done our analysis and our review of that. But we wouldn't be kind of being complacent about that either.

“And definitely, we want to push on our performance from how it was the last time and definitely pick out some areas where we think we can attack.”

Building confidence

Make no mistake, though, Corri and the Wolfhounds are determined to get the result they need in Edinburgh to get over the line. Especially, with an Irish derby against the Clovers to follow at Kingspan Stadium on 24 February.

And Corri believes a Wolfhounds victory would be a timely fillip for Irish rugby as a whole. “I think this year in particular would mean something more, [because] this is the first year we’ve had the play-off system,” she said.

“To win against a team who have played you and also know your style of play, definitely has that kind of bit of extra achievement to it.

“I suppose on the back of last year as well, it would be massive for us as a Wolfhounds team, but also massive for Irish rugby as well to be able to go back-to-back.

“The Celtic Challenge has been a massive platform for us to bridge our provincial set-up to that international stage. So, to go back-to-back would really kind of solidify the work that has gone on in Irish rugby for the past two years.

“And just give us that bit of extra confidence that our processes are working, we are beginning to move forward, and hopefully prep us as well as it can for the Six Nations.”

“We’ve definitely improved”

Edinburgh coach Claire Cruikshank admitted her side went into the season without a set performance target, so qualifying for the play-offs in second was a “real bonus”.

However, she is confident her team is better now than it was at the beginning of January, albeit they will have to be at their best if they are to extend the title race beyond this weekend.

“That’s the only game that we've lost this season, it was quite early on in our campaign, and we believe that we've definitely improved and grown since that game,” said Cruikshank, who described Saturday’s rematch as an “exciting opportunity” for her side.

“They really challenged us around the breakdown and our breakdown area play wasn't good enough on that day.

“And we probably had about three other chances in that game, [when a] basic handling error let us down and we were probably in for a score. We have to definitely take those opportunities.

“They've got one of the highest success rates of conversion when they get in the 22. So, our defence needs to be on point, and we've got to take our opportunities if we want to win this game.”


Later on Saturday, Glasgow Warriors will get their play-off campaign underway against Welsh side Brython Thunder at Scotstoun Stadium.

A repeat of the teams’ round five encounter, which Thunder won 22-12 at Stadiwm CSM, the hosts have an immediate opportunity for revenge as they bid to lift themselves off the bottom of the standings.

Glasgow will remain sixth whatever the result at Scotstoun, however, given they go into the match six points adrift of their visitors above them.

A home victory would, though, secure a top-four finish for Gwalia Lightning, who missed out on a place in the top three by only two points and start the play-offs with a six-point cushion on their Welsh rivals, Thunder in the standings.

(Photo credit: Inpho photography)

Last updated: Feb 15, 2024, 2:45:18 PM
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