08.01.2011 1st XV v Cork Constitution (A)
Cork Constitution FC V St Mary’s College RFC
AIL Division 1 A
Saturday 8th January 2011.
Since we were last in touch, the Iceman hath cometh and goeth and cometh and goeth again and Santa Claus hath cometh and goeth and we have mourned our missing Marys’ rugby, so as we wish each other happy 2011 we can be glad to see the action return. Unfortunately, it was a losing trip to the champions, Cork Constitution, but after the lay-off it was by no means a bad away performance and we secured the important losing bonus point. Cork is a difficult place to go to for a result but at least now, the roads make it far easier to reach in much shorter time. We might feel inclined to blame Cork on all our woes and economic ills, for isn’t it the home of “de Banks” but Cork Con are always warm in their hospitality and were again today.
In the first half Con looked the better side, running hard onto the ball, moving it wide, swiftly and rucking rapidly, but after the break we matched them well and pushed them hard, although the final result was about fair. Our set pieces were good today with our scrum ahead and our forwards all toiled, we had some particular performances too with Captain, Paul Nash, as ever leading from the front and Jack Mc Grath effectively carrying, supporting and putting in a strong defensive display and Richard Sweeney showed his value, not only as hooker where he worked incessantly and effectively but, also when he moved to the backrow, after the prominent Damian Hall had to be replaced due to injury, (David Kilbride went to hooker and did well as usual) there, Richard was gripulous for the ball in the loose, playing at high tempo in all respects and was my man of the match. Behind the scrum, Darren Hudson showed hunger and penetrative ability with the ball and was matched in endeavour by Stephen Grissing and while the overall defensive effort was great, we showed some difficulty in containing their young winger Zebo who made some fine runs.
From the kick off Con showed intent to attack with pace and width and we had to defend vigorously. After only 10 minutes of the half the unfortunate Steve Bradshaw tore a calf muscle and had to withdraw, bringing Gareth Logan into action and then after 16 minutes they got a penalty through scrumhalf Hurley. On 30 minutes we equalised through Gavin Dunne, but they went ahead once more on 39 minutes, to leave the score at 6 – 3 at half time, we would have felt happy with that situation.
In the second half we raised the pace of the game considerably and after only six minutes, we evened the score and confidence was growing, however ten minutes of the half was gone when their captain and number 8, Cogan, picked up a ball in his own half and ran hard and straight along the touch line to score a fine try, which Hurley converted from far out and the score was 13 – 6. Gavin then made it 13 – 9, on 18 minutes; it was 16 - 9 and soon afterwards, Phillip Brophy and Matt D’Arcy came on. At the 20-minute mark we had a series of piercing run-and-rucks and Matt, as the ball came back from the ruck outside their 22, in true Duracell fashion, zipped out blind, left two trailing, went through a gap and glided over for a lovely try. So 16 – 14. They nearly made it very hard for us when after a fine move the potential scorer knocked on over the line; and so we went hunting for a winner. However, on 34 minutes it was they who scored a penalty to make it 19 – 14 and then just on full time to our disappointment they put us outside bonus point range with another, 22 – 14. Spirit took over, Paul Nash exhorting his team to a final effort and to their credit, the team put considerable pressure on the Con line and although Con held out they conceded a penalty; a pretty difficult one, but Gavin, tribute to him, coolly scored. So the final score was 22 – 17 and we had the valuable losing bonus point.
We are well placed now, in third position, for the second round of games and Ciaran Potts will be proud and happy with how he has developed this young team and put in place a squad of depth and value. The pace and power of the club game has increased greatly and we have kept pace with that increase; this does of course put pressure on resources as frequent injuries occur. Our scrummaging this year is strong and the present laws of the scrum give good opportunity to attack from it. It is worth noting too, that that teams which perfect the offload in the disruption are making unexpected and profitable space and we are developing that aspect of our game. To win the AIL, it is vital to have all that others have and some little extra facets linked to the magic ingredient, continuous confident concentration. So let us all enjoy round 2 and support even better than in round 1. It is there for us.
Team:- 15 G Dunne, 14 P Gillespie, 13 S Grissing, 12 M Sexton, 11 D Hudson, 10 I Mc Kinley, 9 D Campbell, 8 H Hogan, 7 P Nash (Capt), 6 D Hall, 5 S Bradshaw, 4 C Ruddock, 3 J Mc Grath, 2 R Sweeney, 1 C Mc Mahon.