14.01.2012 1st XV v Cork Constitution (H)
St Mary’s College RFC V Cork Constitution FC
AIB AIL Division 1 A
Saturday 14th January 2012
Diamonds’ beauty rightly shines and haughty value it defines,
Yet greater value still is work and those who graft and never shirk
If last week was consummate poetry, this week was constructive prose. There was admittedly a noticeable defervescence and a few more errors, but none the less, it was a steadfast performance. Marys and Cork Con vied valiantly for honours and served up an enjoyable demonstration of strong committed rugby. These are two teams that are likely to be hovering high when April arrives and meantime, no doubt, the return meeting will be no less interesting and closely contested. Con have been, over the past few years, an outstanding club team and they remain a fine unit; today, their wide running was impressive although they had a number of handling slips.
It is important to be able to score, but to defend is the most important and Marys showed today that the defence is adamantine, the tackling was metronomic, never missing a beat, frequently tandem tackling, with two tacklers in unison crushing the carrier and often holding him up to effect a turn over; in the first half alone we registered eight turnovers. On top of that, once again the pack showed itself as being, at present possibly the strongest in the league, as it squeezed the force out of Con. Everyone of the pack, once again, worked hard, the scrum was irresistible with the front row again magnificent, all three, but for constant controlled power and work all over, Jack Mc Grath had to be my man of the match. He ground all in front of him in the scrum, lifted like a JCB, pummelled runners in the loose and carried like a rumbustious rhino. Although we had a few lineouts go awry, our defensive lineout was top class, with Steve Bradshaw prominent in that regard.
Behind the scrum again, we were well served with Phillip Brophy resuming normal service and he was well supported by Matt D’Arcy whose grandmother, Mrs Margo D’Arcy, his greatest fan, was there to cheer him on. Much of Con’s attack was directed through midfield and Mark and Steve never blinked as they “hoovered” up each attack and were ever vigilant for the counter.
That win keeps us on top of the league at the end of the first half of the league programme and it puts us in a really positive position. There is a week off now which gives super analyst Smythy et al time to work on the minor defects apparent and although, there is a long way to go and there will be surprises and upsets, with teams taking points from each other, if we remain concentrated and confident, lose no more than a couple of games we should have a very good chance of success, remembering that there are no play offs. Playing away from home does not carry fear for our lads, as they have shown. We have two trips to Cork ahead, none to Limerick and three Dublin away games. Our next game is away to league champions Old Belvedere on 28th January; we have a break next week, so everyone can enjoy the Heineken Cup and our Club Dinner on next Friday.
On a perfect day for rugby, Marys played towards the Road end in the first half and by the end of it, had established a distinct advantage on the field and scoreboard. The work rate and concentration were high and our scrum was giving a valuable power base. After 12 minutes we got our first penalty for killing the ball and Gavin Dunne made it 3 – 0 and he made it 6 – 0 on 18 minutes for an offside penalty . it was 26 minutes when we took an lineout on the Con 22, we formed a maul and marched towards the line, with imperious design, just at the line there was pause then a surge and captain, Hugh Hogan, broke and dived to score a worthy try, which brought the score to 11 – 0. It remained so until half time.
The second half showed a slight change of emphasis to positional play and control. Con put themselves back into contention with an excellent try in Carvill Corner, on 15 minutes. Soon afterwards, we got another penalty and Con had a penalty on 36 minutes to bring the score to 14 – 8. This spurred them on and they attacked hard but Marys rose to it and counterattacked with a kick ahead up field, quickly followed up, so the defender had to scramble the ball into touch close in, we won the ball and set to their line with drive after drive. We moved from the top terrace corner to under the posts and it looked as though we would rob the losing bonus from them with a drop goal, as it was now into injury time, but no, we continued the attack across to the car park corner, where they turned us over and when attempting a clearance kick, Damien Hall, who recovered from injury, had come on in the second half showing he had not lost his good form, flew up and used his great frame to block the ball and dive on it to score a try, wonderfully well converted by Gavin and so it ended 21 – 8.
Team (Rolling substitutions) 15 G Dunne, 14, D Hudson, 13 S Grissing, 12 M Sexton, 11 C Lilly, 10 P Brophy, 9 M D’Arcy, 8 H Hogan (Capt), 7 G Austen, 6 C Ruddock,5 S Bradshaw, 4 G Logan, 3 Robert Sweeney, 2 Richard Sweeney, 1 J Mc Grath. R Brosnan, C Mc Mahon, D Keller, D Hall C Hogan,