J3 XV v Navan (A) – 29.09.23

J3 XV v Navan
Friday 29th September
Metro Division 7
Balreask Old, Navan RFC

After this game being postponed earlier in the week we finally got underway in division 7. Thanks to our management team and fixtures secretary for their work in getting this game rescheduled.

Having faced this navan side last year we knew we were up against it travelling down here. After Mary’s defeating them in the first game of the year last season in division 8 this side went on to a have a hugely successful season and deservedly earned promotion to division 7.

Despite the issues faced with floodlights in the pre match warm our squad were unphased and concentrated on game time led by Dave and murph.

The game started with Mary’s receiving and Harry catching a high ball and gaining some early yards only to be met by the big navan pack. The early exchanges were physical up front as they were throughout with the home side gaining early traction in the game, making yards and committing heavily to the early rook ball, aiming to dominate the pack game. Their share of possession and this commitment paid early dividends and when they got their penalty opportunity, navan smartly opted for the posts as our pack were not there to be dominated or pushed around the park. 3-0 Navan
The navan pack kept up the physical game although their scrummaging technique was questionable at times and we found ourselves on the wrong side of some referring decisions at rook time. The breaks in play provided an opportunity for our senior players in the pack such as Christian and Richie to refocus our efforts and show good game management by aiming to make better decisions when it came to turnover ball at the breakdown and keeping the ref happy. Navan made the game 6-0 heading toward the break after another penalty at the breakdown.

Mary’s regrouped and the collective effort of this squad started clicking , after some good clean phases , navan gave up a penalty which Harry duely slotted over.

6-3 Navan

Mary’s grew more and more into the physical game and some solid work by the pack was rewarded by a Mattie Kennedy try.
Harry again stepped up with the golden boot and added the conversion.

10-6 Mary’s

Although the scrum situation was frustrating with navans constant wheeling, when the ball did get out the back by wogie , Harry used the boot wisely along with Malo keeping up the good comms. The most notable performance in the back line was Kyle hennigan as winger, putting in superb chases and tackles. He was even too quick for the referee at times!! His work rate and attitude was immense throughout the game while also picking up a hand injury after a montrorous hit in the closing minutes. He was deservedly handed the man of the match award.
Soon after we got back to 10-6 we received a yellow for our new winger , young jack. More so a case of mis communication with the ref here than any misconduct. Down to 14 but again clever and calm heads on the pitch and good game management meaning we only conceded 3 points while down numbers through another navan penalty demonstrating again the superb collective workrate in D to remove any try scoring threat.

10-9 Mary’s

Jack returned to the field only to be soon met by Shero who picked up our second yellow of the night. This was another unfortunate one to pick up for a high tackle but the navan winger was already falling into the tackle and all credit to the team , we didn’t loose the head or panic and respected the decision here.

The battle continued up front with a stoppage for a neck roll on the pitch for our captain Richie , fearing he would have to leave the pitch , he decided to appoint me team physio to conduct a live HIA at the request of the ref. Needless to say Richie conducted his own HIA to which I had to agree to and figure out how the referee actually bought this. With Dave and murph on the sideline we tactically re adjusted with each decision as it unfolded on the pitch. GPS and data analysis not required!

The team held firm in defence and murph and Dave got all the bench on with Gary, Marius, dom, thady and quinny keeping up the high work rate. The trademark quinny snipe also appeared but unfortunately did not end in a score on this occasion.

So many big performances on the pitch and as we upped the tempo, up stepped Harry to make a great line break with clever footwork scoring under the navan sticks.

Again he converted 17-9 Mary’s

Navan did not give up and put up a fight in the late stages but another penalty from Harry sealed the game 20-9 Mary’s.

The lads held firmly in the red zone in the closing stages and the game ended quite fittingly with a huge turnover near the Mary’s line from Richie.

To fully describe the individual and collective efforts of this team I could only rename the team sheet. A huge win for the first league game. Special thanks to our president Bobby for his words in the post match dressing room re-enforced once again by our club anthem. The potential of this side is on display in every game as we continue to build on this great start.

Thanks to Seamie, Simon, Murph and Dave for all their support.

Chris O’Connor