|14/02/2009||3:00pm||League||NUIM Barnhall||29 – 32||St. Marys J4 XV||Away|
St Mary’s College J4 V Barnhall J4
The J4’s clinched this match with the last kick of the game to maintain their 100% record in Pool 1. Trips to Rome for the rugby and other Valentine-related withdrawals hit us hard and in the end we could only round up 17 bodies including a Manager (yours truly) called out of retirement to start the game.
Barnhall were tough as always, despite being out of the running for quarter-final qualification, and the opening stages were quite even with Mary’s just shading possession and territory. The key man for Mary’s was right wing Nick Cunningham, who used his pace to outflank the Barnhall defence twice early on to give Mary’s a 14-0 lead after Ted slotted the conversions. Barnhall came back into contention and were playing well with their big pack off-loading well to support in the tackle. Mary’s forced a turnover in their own 22 though and Nick did the business again, sealing his hat-trick from inside his own half and extending our lead to 21 points.
Barnhall continued to pressurise and when they fielded a loose kick from Mary’s, they ran it back for a try, duly converted for 21-7. The pressure continued and approaching half time, their No. 8 got over close to the posts for another score. 21-14 at half time.
A penalty from Barnhall was then matched by Ted early in the second half – 24-17 – and then a great open-field break by second row (and former JCT winger!) John Twomey with a quick recycle, led to Alan “Boom Boom” Godfrey going over in the corner (taking advantage of the new ELV that says it doesn’t matter that his backside hit the corner flag before he grounded the ball!) for a 29-17 lead pushing us more than 2 scores clear.
Barnhall had us under more pressure from the kick-off and all through the second half the defending was mighty but the referee had taken a dislike to our approach at the breakdown and the pressure continued. Barnhall again crashed over near the posts to make it 29-24. As full-time approached, it was backs against the wall stuff with some great on the line tackling but Barnhall managed to squeeze over in the corner in the last minute to pull level at 29-29. The kick was missed but the ref advised that there was one play left in the game.
A lesser side might have been content with spoiling the unbeaten record of another team but Barnhall secured the kick-off and kept the ball alive, obviously going for the win. Unfortunately for them, the ref spotted a transgression at the breakdown and awarded Mary’s a penalty (a rare occurrence in the match as a whole) inside the Barnhall half. As we all know, the ref can’t blow for full-time on a penalty so Ted pointed at the posts and prepared for the final kick of the game to clinch the match, maintain our 100% record and to keep the vigorous challenge of Old Wesley (who have only been beaten once – by Mary’s) for a home quarter-final at bay. No pressure, Ted!
He calmly prepared himself (Andy Goode-like these days rather than the crouch, touch, pause & engage of his previous life), stepped up and slotted the points. Mary’s remain top with only 2 league games against the Emerald Warriors (7th March) and our old rivals, Wesley (14th March) remaining.
15. Paul Whyte 14. Nick Cunningham 13. Darragh O’Neill 12. Paul Moran 11. Chi-Yuen Hui 10. Brian Moran 9. Ross Wynne 8. Padraig Nestor 7. Joe Doddy 6. Eamon Moran 5. Alan Godfrey 4.John Twomey 3. Gavin Rafferty (Tim Henderson) 2. Ross Kelly 1. Jim Nolan