17.01.2010 U20 Premier XV v Clontarf (A)

17/01/20102:30pmJ.P. Fanagan LeagueClontarf20 – 22St. Marys U21s 1st XVAway

                        St Mary’s Vs Clontarf              22-20

The Squad:

1. Neil Murphy, 2.Tommy Meredith, 3. Sean Preston, 4. Robbie Field,  5. Sean Tevlin , 6. Wes Wojnar, 7. Gareth Austin, 8. Darragh Keller,

9. Chris Lilly, 10. Colin Sheridan, 11. Ray Crotty, 12. Edouard Nicolay, 13. Steve Toal-Lennon, 14. Ian O’Neill, 15. Darren Hudson,(cpt) 16. Rory O Donovan,

17. Robert Ferris, 18. Gavin Thornberry, 19. Darragh Maher, 20. Brian Heavey,

21. Darradh Fitzgerald, 22. Ciaran Collins,

Numerous errors and an absence of sharpness was expected in the first match back after the extended Christmas break and this match lived up to expectations. The soft nature of the pitch was never going to improve the situation either. There was a real mix of excellent individual performances and moments of team brilliance combined with simply errors and lack of focus. All in all were pleased (and even a little fortunate) to come away with a win on the day and all credit to Clontarf for making such a spirited comeback.

That said, their comeback was not so much due to brilliance on their behalf as much as it was to mistakes on our side, gifting them tries which we would not normally do.

Our platform was solid from the outset in both the scrums (where Neil Murphy and Sean Preston controlled with ease) and and lineouts, where Tommy threw and Sean Tevlin and Robbie Field retrieved well. This all led to long periods of sustained pressure on the Clontarf line, only for poor handling to deny us significant gain in the opening period.

Chris Lilly broke the impasse on 13 minutes with a moment of insight and individual skill, running in a solo try from the blind side 22mtr scrum. He was, whether he knew it or not,  aided significantly by Ray Crotty who drew his opposite number to the open side and created the opening.     

Wes Wojnar had an excellent mid field intercept some minutes later and ran to the 22mtr line before his pass was intercepted. The tempo was however improving and another score seemed imminent. 

On the 20minute mark, Tommy Merrideth turned over a Clontarf  ball on our 22mtr line. Quick hands to Chris Lilly and Hudson sent Crotty on a blistering run down the touch line. Ray retrieved his excellent kick ahead and scored in the corner. The referee however deemed the ball to have been in touch and disallowed the try. We won the game so I’m prepared to forgive him for this error. Good try Ray!

There followed a lot of poor handling and simple errors on both sides due simply to the absence of match practice. Ray however converted a penalty on 33 minutes.

Sustained pressure from St Mary’s was beginning to show. Numerous rolling mauls and strong forward surges were taking their toll on the Clontarf pack and only simple handling errors prevented us from racking up significant additional points. On 36 minutes however, a great defensive scrum by Mary’s led to a Clontarf fumble. From the resulting attacking scrum, Chris Lilly again broke through for another excellent try under the posts. Ray converted well. The score at the end of the first half was 15-0.

Clontarf scored a well worked try in the corner in the first action of the second half but failed to convert. (score now 15-5)

St Mary’s hit back with an excellent try which had its origins in yet another well executed rolling maul leading to a St Mary’s Penalty. From the resulting line out the forwards controlled the ball well and Wes Wojnar broke free to score a well earned try. Ray Converted.  (Score 22-5).

In spite of some excellent defensive tackling, Clontarf were rewarded with sustained pressure with a converted try mid way through the second half. (22-12).

With 18 minutes to go, Darragh Maher replaced Gareth Austin, Robert Ferris replaced Neil Murphy, Gavin Thornberry replaced Sean Tevlin and Ciaran Collins replaced Eduard Nicolay.

Mary’s worked hard for the rest of the game and only simple errors prevented them from racking up additional points. We were fortunate however to run out winners as Clontarf scored a late try but failed to convert (22-20).

Happy to have this match behind us and a win under our belt, we look forward to a sharper performance next week against Lansdowne in Templeville.