Clontarf v Emerald Warriors
Saturday March 4th
We had a big squad for this game, our biggest yet. And this, coupled with a great bunch of supporters who braved some crap weather, was great to see!! I definitely felt spurred on with all the cheering and encouragement, so big thanks to you lads & ladies!
Our warm-up was graced with hail and heavy rain, it was cold and windy, and I for one was not looking forward to playing on the artificial pitch. We went in for our pre-game talk and the small cosy changing room was a brief respite. Some usual talk ensued, but also we all knew that our own game would be decided in the first minute. Thur own first tackles, and ball carries.
We received the ball from Clontarf at the kick-off, and we held on to it. Taking in low carries, well supported in the rucks, and Clontarf felt the pressure. There were a couple of mistakes on our side, but a lot more from Clontarf. We continually broke fast from the rucks and forced bad passess and knock on’s by Clontarf, continually winning possession.
I took a breather about 10 minutes in, to realise we were still 0-0. This was looking good.
Then Clontarf landed a try, after a lot of hard work on their part, and despite some outstanding fluid defence on ours. Within 5 minutes we had levelled with them, with Michael Menton gliding through their defence after taking a quick penalty to pop the ball down over their try line. Our scrums were superior to Clontarf, even pushing them off their own ball! Our variety of lineout calls worked, winning us ball, and unsettling the Clontarf side. Half-time came, seeing us at 5-5. This is a big milestone for us! Clontarf were no easy side to match. And it came down to hard work, and a well knit, well bonded team who worked both as a full unit, and as strong individual players.
The second half we kicked off to Clontarf, who upped their game and fought hard to land the first score of the second half. We lost one player to injury, and another to a temporary hand injury. Again Clontarf ran hard at us, pushing us back on the gain-line and making yards with every phase. Our exhaustion started to show, as we hesitated in our defensive line, giving them the space they needed to pass the ball out. Also, with substitutes coming into set-plays, confusion grew within our ranks, most notably in the lineouts. Our scrum was not as strong without some of our key players.
We have a lot of positives to take from this game, and a lot of lessons too. There were some great tackles, great carries, perfectly executed back-line plays, and our defence in the first half was superior to anything Clontarf had for the entire game. The best thing we did was get stuck in and play hard from the first kick!
I know a fair few of you didn’t get game-time, but that’s just the run of the game. As a substitute, you’re as important as any player on the starting 15, it’s not uncommon for a substitute to score a winning try, or secure a lineout ball. You could see the difference when a substitute came on warmed up and ready to give it everything, even if there’s only 10 minutes left to play. And when you’re on the sideline, keep active, it was a big plus for me to see you doing laps of the pitch in the shit weather. Richie Fagan came on in the second half and played some great rugby, the weekend in Newcastle had a good effect, keep it up!
Some outstanding play from Kevin Pollard and Alfonso Bonilla on the wings, great runs and aggressive tackling, hard to believe you only started this year! Philip Brereton did a great job at 10, unfamiliar for you, with some great kicks over the top. Our scrum was superb, With Colin Graham and Sean Ryan powering strong from the second row. Let’s keep building on it, and we’ll be the best scrum at Union!
I can’t mention everyone, but everyone on that pitch did a great job, and you did your jersey, club and teammates proud! 🙂
Man of the Match for me (and mentioned by a fair few others) was Gary Lynch, who was continually vocal throughout the game, leading the defence and a running strong ball through the Clontarf defence from the first whistle to the last.
Final score Clontarf 34 – 5 EWRFC
Warriors Team: Robert Clancy, Mark Mulligan, Martin Flannery, Colin Graham, Sean Ryan, Marcus Connolly, Simon Ò Murchù, Stephen Carroll,Michael Menton, Philip Brereton, Oran Sweeney, Gary Lynch, Ryan Burke, Kevin Pollard, Noel Noblett, Seamie MacThomás, Conor Noble, Ioan Hughes, Lee Martin, Alfonso Bonilla, Wilco Froneman, Brian Healy, Jack Heyssel, Damien Leddy, Sam Whelan-Curtin, Jay Newton, Stephen Ryan,Richie Fagan