St Marys J4 v Bective Rangers
February 20th saw the beginning of the St Marys J4 Winter’s Cup campaign at home to Bective Rangers. After both teams received a first round bye, a gale force wind and a pitch looking a little worse for wear before the game even began, had this second round clash promising to be a tight game. They came from far and wide for this one, none more so then J4 lock Richard Fagan who travelled all the way from his chalet in the Swiss Alps that very morning to start this match.
The opening 20 minutes went much the way it was thought it would start with both sides playing intense, physical rugby in what could only be described as a mud bath. Both sides kept each other scoreless, however, it was Bective who enjoyed much of the early possession and had the best chance to open the scoring, the visitors camped just short of the Marys’ try line. Outstanding defensive work from the likes of lock Shane Fanning and hooker Brian Young kept the visitors at bay and allowed the J4s to clear their lines.
It was now the turn of Marys to apply pressure on Bective through big carries from number 8 Gareth Lloyd and tighthead prop David Browne. Powerful running and a good scrum allowed for the Marys’ backs to come into their own. On a day when conditions were against them, they moved the ball well through the hands as they would set up and score the game’s only try. Having secured ball on the visitor’s 22, silver haired centre Richard Pyne kicked a high ball and gave chase. The strong gale caused the ball to move in the air and allowed for Pyne to recover his own kick, round two Bective players and touch the ball down just left of the posts. The conversion from fly half James Bourke made it 7-0 to Marys. Another penalty just before the half time whistle gave a very muddied Marys a well-deserved lead at the break of 10-0.
On the restart it was difficult to tell who was playing for who as both sets of players now looked to be wearing brown jerseys, a testament to the intensity of this match and just how poor the conditions actually were. Marys continued to press Bective as they went in search of a try to put the match out of reach, instead poor discipline at the breakdown presented Marys with another penalty and fly half Bourke didn’t disappoint, kicking Marys into a 13 point lead. Despite having kept the visitors scoreless to this point, the Marys defensive effort from the likes of captain David Balfour and Man of the Match David Browne continued to frustrate Bective throughout the course of the second half.
As the game progressed and the pitch continued to deteriorate, the game began to open up more for both sides with attacking rugby coming from wingers David and Peter Daly and full back James Walsh, making exciting breaks and securing good territory. Further strong running from flanker James McHugh and centre Owen Clery resulted in another penalty for Marys and James Bourke stepped up to give Marys a 16-0 cushion with some 20 minutes remaining.
Never ones to know when they are beaten, Bective continued to push for a score as they progressively grew into the second half. A scrum that didn’t pay much dividend in the first half was now flying for the visitors as they kept the pressure on Marys throughout the remaining 20 minutes. With some 10 minutes or so to go Marys were reduced to 14 men with the only recently introduced David Owen Mahon getting yellow carded after some 150 seconds on the pitch. Interestingly, 150 seconds is also the amount of time winger Dave Millard spent running on and off the field as he forgot his gumshield not once but twice. Bective looked to register some points but one final run from lock Shane Fanning sealed the victory and a quarterfinal match against Blackrock College next month.
Final score Marys 16 – Bective 0