28.01.2012 1st XV v Old Belvedere (A)
Old Belvedere RFC V St Mary's College RFC
AIL Division 1 A
Saturday 29th January 2012.
The different levels of expectation and hope always affect how one views results and situations and if we scrutinise the result and the situation here, we should indeed be extremely well pleased, as we achieved a fine result and are situated at the top of the top table of Irish club rugby; what more could we want? This was a win that was hard fought yet well deserved, although, we must be objective and never become too precious or unwilling to look at imperfections.
When Marys play a tempo game, with respect, there is no other team in division 1A that can compete and added to that the pack, as I have contended a number of times this season, is in all aspects ahead of those of the other nine teams.
It should be said that Old Belvedere are proud champions and did not ask nor give quarter and fought to the end, indeed were, up to the last ten minutes, within one score of a win. Their defence grafted and the backline gave no space, however, they do lack bulk and run somewhat tangentially in attack; having been denuded of some of their finest players they are finding it difficult. They will labour and not wilt and will climb back.
Sometimes today, glancing over towards the terrace, one could almost see the little old narrow stand that used huddle there and glimpse Lexie Tynon sprinting down the wing or Ollie Campbell stepping back to slot a goal; or even a dance queue of eager youths on a Sunday night. There is a lot of good history at Anglesea Road, with a lot more to come.
Today, especially in the first half, we probably did not put enough pace on the game and were unable to use the outer corridors enough, although we had an abundance of possession, but in other respects, especially with the second half, the team will be well contented and the captain Hugh Hogan, once more can be especially proud of himself, having been up all the previous night with severe gastritis, he without mention or complaint, went on and led from the front. While mentioning the pack, it is worth observing the complementariness of the eight today and throughout the league to date, with a front row that is dynamic, fast, technical and athletic and it was hard today to separate, in quality or exertion, one from the other but for a complete performance all through the game, hooker Richard (Chips) Sweeney (an asset to any team), got the nod as man of the match. The second row, with any of four players involved, is now in gliding gear and the back now has a balance of skill and power, attack and defence (again with any of six players involved) that ensures continuity and security. Today, the scrum was so ascendant that award of a scrummage to either side almost guaranteed advantage to the visitors. A Marys’ maul, when formed, swept all in front of it. The rucking may not have had the ultimate zip which slowed the possession, but was still effective.
Behind the scrum, we had mixed fortunes and the Belvo defence gave no room. The untried back three combination of especially talented young players, will be pleased with their contributions and Darren Hudson (he scored a try), Ray Crotty and Christopher Lilly worked hard and well in both attack and defence and Ray’s kicking was exemplary.
On a dull dank day, on a heavy pitch, we kicked off towards the Anglesea Road end and went into attack straight away, however, we found their defence obdurate as they defiladed. On 12 minutes when we mounted another attack, their shoot defence intercepted a chip and their 13, John Kennedy, ran from halfway to score and so it was 7 – 0. We won a penalty on 25 minutes and put it into the corner, won the lineout, drove on, and set up a maul that crabbed to the line, then Matt D’Arcy let it out and Darren, in the line at pace, slide in, Ray converted and it was 7 – 7. They missed a penalty before adding one on 32 minutes and that is how the half ended, 10 – 7.
The second half arrived with a raising of pace from the visitors and pressure mounted on the home defence. Eventually, on 18 minutes, the pressure paid when, after Chris Lilly came very close, after a fine move, we bombarded their line with pick and drive and the excellent Colm Mc Mahon picked and raced in fast and hard to score and Ray made it 10 – 14. Ray added a good penalty on 22 minutes and another on 32 minutes, so it was 10 – 20. Into injury time on 42 minutes, a ruck near the Belvo line came to Matt who took a diagonal vector and accelerated hard for the line, he gave a well timed ball to marvelman, Phillip Brophy, and he did the rest as he skipped the last two defenders, it was 10 – 27 when Ray converted and the end.
Team (Rolling substitutions) 15, D Hudson, 14 R Crotty, 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 C Mc Mahon. B O’Flanagan, D Hall, R Brosnan, K Carroll, C Hogan.