26.10.2013 1st XV v Ballynahinch (H)
St Mary’s College RFC V Ballynahinch RFC
AIL Division 1 A
Saturday 26th October 2013
Having come up through hard battling, Ballynahinch were never going to lie down, so being the renowned fighters they are, they kept battling to the end and got a deserved losing bonus point. As an all Ireland league it is important for rugby,that all the provinces are represented at every level and it is good to have an Ulster club back in Division 1A.
In the first half, it did not look likely that Ballynahinch would get anything from the game as Marys were playing rapid rhythm rugby. In spite of torrential rain, the home team handled assuredly and recycled well, while the visitors’ hands were frequently fallible and they failed to use a strong wind towards Carvill Corner. When within striking distance,constant and capable Gavin Dunne took advantage of penalties awarded; and struck three before the break.
The second half saw a big improvement from Ballynahinch. They raised their pace and intensity and improved their handling and recycling. On the other hand, we did not maintain the same fluidity and concentration. There were too, occasions when our line looked a little static and so the contest was closer. With a game against Clontarf on Friday, we need a reset and then improve accuracy and decision making in particular. No doubt, with the perspicacity of the coaches, all will be attended to alacritously.
There were some quite promising signs, with fine performances from several players. Darragh Frawley fitted comfortably with Ciaran Ruddock, in the second row, andlooked to be settling in well; he had a marvellous effort with a penalty from inside his own half that just failed. DylanFawsitt, was a constant dynamic contributor in defence andattack and was my man of the match. Kevin Sheahan was not far behind in his contribution and was well supported in the backrow. Behind the scrum, the mid field of captain, Mark Sexton, and Robbie Hudson was compact and effective. Winger Ryan O’Loughlin, showed his flashing feet to good effect when given the opportunity. It was evident too that those, who came on in the rolling substitution rota, fitted in well. We are still without talented club captain, Darragh Fanning. Steve Bradshaw and, Mark Fallon and year’s captain Richard Sweeney, remain injured. Out too are Marcus O’Driscoll and Matt D’Arcy, all major losses.
Now after three games, we are in seventh place with five points, ahead of Lansdowne 5, Ballynahinch 2, and Garryowen 0. Newcomers UCD lead the race with 12 points.
Due to the importunitous nature of of the rain, few of the post lunch bunch went further than the picture windows in the main and the centenary bars. Only a small sprinkling of supporters dotted the terraces and pitch surrounds. The rain bounced and cascaded down the terrace steps as the game commenced but the pitch held up well throughout. Likewise, did the players and the referee, who did his best to let the game flow with the downpour
Marys played up towards the Cabbage patch in the first half, which usually augurs well for a good result. Although,against a strong wind they held the ball well and were in attack from the start. There were frequent stoppages due to the difficulty of handling the ball in the wet and cool conditions. The St Marys scrum was stronger, especially after the Hinch tighthead had to withdraw injured, one of several injuries to the visitors’ side. Eventually, the loss of props resulted in non-contested scrums.
After 15 minutes a strong attack assailing the Hinch line, and building in power and purpose, gave 12 phases and on line pressure. This led to a penalty for not rolling away. Gavin converted the kick. After two similar attacks, penalties were converted by Gavin on the 25th and 37th minutes. This put Marys in the lead by 9 – 0 at half time.
The second half saw changes in the Hinch game fare. They attacked with purpose and held possession much better, their rucking and distribution also improved and the game became more entertaining. With the increased effort and skill levels they were reward and by mid-half the score was 12 – 6, with an added penalty from Gavin on seven minutes and two from Ballynahinch right wing Mc Ilwaine, who also looked to be a potent force in attack.
Nearing full time, on the 36th minute, Gavin gave some cushioning to his team with a penalty, which followed his fine kick to the Hinch corner. Credit must be accorded to Ballynahinch, as they continued to strive. Their reward came with a penalty in injury time, to make the score 15 – 9. They had three minutes to hold out for their losing bonus point. It was a good win for Marys and another stride onward.
You may remember that last time I made a special appeal to you to become a spotter by, attending some junior games andassessing them and particularly spotting promising talent. Disappointingly, no one has come forward so I ask again for you to consider so doing. You can contact anyone on Rugby Council or the executive committee. Thank you.
The Team (Rolling substitutions)
15 G Dunne, 14 C Hogan, 13 R Hudson, 12 M Sexton (Capt), 11 R O’Loughlin, 10 C Marsh, 9 C Lilly, 8 K Sheahan, 7 B O’Flanagan, 6 G Austen, 5 C Ruddock, 4 D Frawley, 3 B Mc Govern, 2 D Fawsitt, 1 C Mc Mahon, T O’Reilly, A Lyons, R O’Donovan, S Toal Lennon, M Donnellan.