Saturday April 16th saw the visit of Welsh side Penygroes RFC to Templeville Road to take a St. Marys J4/J5 selection. A visiting side determined to return home with a win and several special guest appearances on the card for Marys, this fixture promised to be a memorable one.
The game began as it would mean to continue for much of the first half; big, physical and fast rugby by both sides made for exciting rugby for the on looking Penygroes touring party. The Welshmen enjoyed much of the early possession as they pushed for an early score. A huge effort from the likes of Marys prop David Browne and flanker Gar Lloyd kept the visitors at bay. Despite fighting an uphill battle for much of the first half, Marys had their chances to open the scoring but a strong defensive effort from the visitors denied the home side the lead at every opportunity as they help the J4/J5s to a single penalty for the entire first half. As the first half drew to a close, the Welshmen shone to the fullest of their capabilities with a brace of tries to give them a half time lead of 10-3.
The second half saw the home side rang in the changes as they looked to get some points on the board, swapping out much of the back row and backline. It was not long until this strategy began reaping benefits as the tries began to flow for Marys. Three tries in relatively quick succession, a brace coming from prop Fionan Magee, helped the boys in blue jump out to a commanding lead. Never ones to accept defeat, Penygroes continued to push the homeside and scored a try with some ten minutes remaining to keep the pressure on the hosts in the final few minutes.
The final ten minutes signalled the second set of wholesale changes by Marys, making some 8-10 substitutions at once, including a man who needs no introduction, but chooses to give himself one anyway, Aaron “Big Guns” Hudson. This particular raft of substitutions was notable for one main reason, that being the introduction of three men: Colm Kavanagh, Karl Kelly and the J4/J5s manager Stephen Boden. As Stephen himself said after the game, they were three men who had the crazy idea and that was to play with their sons. With some 10 minutes remaining, Adam Kavanagh, Jonnie Kelly and Sam Boden joined their dads on the pitch for what was a memorable moment for three very proud fathers.
Pennygroes would register another score before the final whistle while Marys would add two more tries before the final whistle. Stephen Boden had the final kick of the game with a conversion attempt which had everything except power and accuracy, narrowly missing the edge of the 22. A final scoreline did not do justice to the Welshmen who gave the boys in blue a much tighter run for their money then the scoreboard suggested. Both sides shared in competitive sing song after the match as the Welsh proved, as one Penygroes player said, they are good at two things in Wales, rugby and singing. The return leg on Welsh soil is eagerly awaited by both sides.
Final score: Marys 32-22 Penygroes