25.01.2014 1st XV v Old Belvedere (A)
Old Belvedere RFC V St Mary’s College RFC
AIL Division 1A
Saturday 25th January 2014.
This was a match of exhilarating excitement throughout, with two fine teams battling in fair joust, at breathless pace. Fortunes swayed and swung and although Marys could have grabbed it at the end, the result was probably right. For the first 20 minutes, St Marys played with the pace and panache that many fully professional teams could not replicate. Two brilliant tries were scored during that period, before Belvo came back into it and their powerful team dominated for a fair, mid game period. Having withstood this squall, and a meteorological one, Marys finished the stronger and more threatening. It was in fact a super game of rugby and a credit to both teams.
Particularly during the early stage, the Marys’ skill levels were marvellous, with passing, offloading, rucking and recycling at laser speed and precision. The fine honing of the skills, effected by Peter and Jonathan, were clear to see and the backline alignment, cohesion, defence and running lines had the exact DNA profile of Marvel Man, Phillip Brophy, who is now looking after the backline for Peter.
Everyone involved, including the rotated replacements, played to his utmost ability and concentration. Behind the scrum, Cathal Marsh ran the backline adventurously and outside him, all were sharp and effective, but one man was in brilliant form, Rob Hudson. He blocked all access through his sector and in attack; he was like a stealth bomber. For the first score, he took a bewildering vector off Cathal and like a reflection on water; he was dazzling, ephemeral and untouchable as he sliced through the defence to score close in. He was my man of the match.
The forwards were as back extensions today, so good was their running, passing and rucking game. In this department, yet again dynamic Dylan Fawsitt excelled. He is like a stainless steel warrior, almost indestructible. He seemed to have the power of bi-location as he popped up with the ball or backing up in every sector. In fact, every forward was primed today. Both teams had to withstand a man in the sin bin at different times.
Remember, Belvo are second in the league and not from luck, but due to a well-drilled powerful team. One facet where Belvo were significantly superior was kicking. In fact, Marys’ kicking was poor today and often this put pressure on position and status.
As we have presaged previously, this is the start of the onward march up the table and if the confidence continues to grow Marys should end up in a very acceptable position. With Dolphin beating Ballynahinch and Garryowen losing once more, we have put more distance between the latter two and us and we remain in touch with Dolphin ahead of us.
As already noted the game started off at phenomenal pace, with Marys well in command and it looked as though it could have been an overwhelming win. The forwards and backs were combining well, running at Belvo and the recycling at the breakdown was fast enough to keep the pace on the game and pressure on the Belvo defence. After ten minutes and a strong period of pressure, Rob Hudson scored that superb try and with the conversion it was 0 – 7. On 15 minutes, Rob’s brother Darren had an exquisite break up along the touchline from halfway to almost the Belvo line and when Marys were awarded a penalty, the momentum was such that wise Kevin Sheahan decided to go to the corner and after a well-controlled maul, Brian Mc Govern touched down in the corner. The excellent conversion saw the score go to 0 – 14. Soon afterwards, the unfortunate Darren had to withdraw injured. Marcus O’Driscoll came on also to excellent effect.
Marys continued to dominate but gradually Belvo acclimatised to the pace and after a penalty and good lineout take, on 32 minutes, they ran it wide for fast left winger, Dunne, to score. Their strong outhalf Crosbie converted from wide. The half ended 7 – 14.
The second half started with the same intent as the first had ended and fortunes swayed. Six minutes it was when Belvo added three points with a penalty. A scrum near the Marys’ line on 13 minutes gave impressive Belvo 8, Jack Conan the opportunity to get over and the conversion put Belvo ahead 17 – 14.
Cathal who had taken over the set kicking duties added a penalty on 17 minutes and the fever was rising. 17 – 17. The strong Marys’ following seemed to outnumber the home support and the team responded. They ran hard and straight, they recycled and drove and drove. With immense pressure on the Belvo line, a penalty was conceded and fast thinking Mathew D’Arcy took his chance tapped the ball from five metres and wriggled his way over for a neat try; it was 23 minutes. Now it was looking good for it was 17 - 22.
Belvo at this stage, were using their kicking game to good effect and worked their way down the field. A series of wide moves, put pressure on the fine Marys’ defence. Eventually on 28 minutes, we were found short out wide and Belvo captain Riordan scored in the corner.
This acted as a spur to Marys and the team put in an heroic finish with several hard running attacks and one which almost brought reward, but it was not to be and so it ended 22 – 22, in a memorable game.
The Team (Rolling substitutions)
15 G Dunne 14 D Hudson, 13, R O’Loughlin, 12 Rob Hudson, 11 C Hogan, 10, C Marsh, 9 M D’Arcy, 8 K Sheahan (Capt), 7 B O’Flanagan, 6 G Austen, 5 C Ruddock, 4 D Frawley, 3 B Mc Govern, 2 D Fawsitt, 1 C Mc Mahon, A Lyons, M Fallon, S Flanagan, M O’Driscoll, R Glynn.