Emerald Warriors V Stillorgan
Saturday 16th January 2016, 12:00pm
With one of our biggest match attendances to date, including support, there was a good feeling in the camp as we got kitted out for the game. Throughout the warmup the intensity began to build, voices got louder, sweat was showing and the adrenalin started to kick in. Though we had to spend 5 minutes stamping in a line across the pitch to break up the frosted top layer of soil (someone suggested we do the Macarena, this suggestion was not entertained), we were still switched on and geared up, a quick huddle and then it was game time.
To say we started strong is an understatement, we started solid! Kicking off to Stillorgan, they caught the ball and kicked back into our half and into touch. Though they won the lineout, they were put down continuously as they took the ball into contact, only making minimal yards before meeting a strong and determined defence. We gained possession through a forward pass, and formed our first scrum of the game. We were stronger and more solid for 80% of the scrummaging, with sound put-in by Joe & Michael, though as a pack we need to break faster when the ball is out.
Our Damo calls are still a little slow, which I think is more down to the loaded defensive side not hearing the call. But the need to move should become evident by the lack of opposition in front of you, we need to look up at their next line of attack. However thanks to some fast feet and strong tackles, most of the oppositions runs were defended well, some tackles so strong they knocked on the ball or were brought into touch. Their first try came well into the first half, and was very hard won. Unfortunately their second try came soon after, as the ball was kicked over our heads and we weren’t fast enough to get back and re-form the line, giving them space and tackling them too high.
In the second half, we were playing uphill (yes the pitch was slanted) but we were only 12 points behind. However a few bad tackles allowed Stillorgan to gain considerable ground, and then send in a big charger who was met with ineffective mid-range tackles, allowing him to place the ball over the line. Were these tackles lower and harder, two of us would have put him down 5 feet from where he started, instead of 10 feet behind our defensive line. Our defensive line needs to break faster, we were making the ‘Hold Hold Break’ calls but not reacting to them.
In attack, we were strong, aggressive and in good support of each other. Going low into contact and protecting the ruck, we worked with good pod structure and reformation, and then getting the ball out in the Rhino call.
Our lineouts were not very successful. As a whole unit, we are inexperienced and lacking confidence in an unfamiliar format, and we had not trained together as a whole so were unfamiliar with each other’s timing, habits and ability. However when it worked, it worked well and we got good ball out to the backs. The lineouts will become one of our strengths, I know it, and we know it just needs practice and training.
The back line was superb, running great lines, executing moves and putting up a fast and reactive defence. Very impressive play!
The Stillorgan players were eager to commend us on our game, and there were compliments and talk of ‘Getting better every time’. The game was a big step-up in performance, aggression, and intention. We are becoming more intent in playing our game of rugby, this is being fuelled by confidence in our training, confidence in our fitness, confidence in our ability and confidence in each other. Confidence which is coming to us with hard work, consistent training, and dedication to the team from the players and coach. I think the support on the sidelines helped a lot too, great to see it!!
Man of the match was Gary Lynch who played a very strong game, carried the ball hard into contact, was continuously vocal and put in some crunching tackles.
Warriors Team: Robert Clancy, Simon Murphy, Brian Healy, Wilco Froneman, Daniel McFadden, Stephen Carroll, Ray McGovern, Robert Medina, Joseph Ward, Noel Noblett, Gary Lynch, Niall McDonald, Ross Loughran, Philip Brereton, Andrew Spelman, Ioan Hughes, Stephen Walsh, Michael Menton, Renato P, Daniel H, Marcus Connolly.
Final score Stillorgan 43 – 0 Emerald Warriors
[Photo credits to Dave McGinley]