This fixture was postponed before the break due an unplayable pitch and going into this game today the league standings were unchanged with Navan in second and Mary’s third with one point separating the sides. Today’s game therefore presented a huge challenge but also a huge opportunity to demonstrate what this J3 squad is capable of. With a big AIL game on the first pitch the club was lively from early in the day and the weather wasn’t let interfere with the task at hand. There was good preparation and focus on this game from the warm up with everyone determined to put in a big home team performance not allowing Navan to dictate the game.
The initial stages of the game started as a bit of a kicking contest, with Navan possibly trying to test our back 3 and how we dealt with the kicks from their full back. The answer was as expected with Shero, Dara and Harry on the field, this wasn’t going to work for Navan. A fine performance from wogie at 9 who also provided great cover in the backfield throughout the game meant that Navan had to revert a lot of the time to relying on their big pack. However no joy was found here for them also. A strong Mary’s pack in every position demonstrated another huge workrate keeping the ball tight where required and pushing the Navan pack side to side to create space out wide.
Early on in the game after spotting the space in the Navan backfield, Wogie put a kick deep in their corner which was followed by a great chase by Jayden , one of many of the day. This led to a Navan knock on and Mary’s scrum on the 5 m line. This was the early opportunity needed to put a marker down while Navan were still adjusting to the game trying to deal with the pressure of the Mary’s pack. The resulting scrum ball hit Denis Daly who put in a huge carry stretching the Navan defence out the blind side and the ball came to Shero who drew the defender perfectly and stepped to get over the line.
Harry stepped up and put in a huge conversion from the Mary’s sideline.
7-0 Mary’s 10mins gone
The game then switched to more of a pack battle with Navan growing into the game a bit more. Despite Navan gaining some possession the Mary’s pack showed an immense workrate at the breakdown and good comms ensured our defensive line was solid with some huge hits straight up and off the line fast to meet any Navan pressure. It was certainly a case of game on, as the pack worked very hard defending huge carries from big game players on the Navan side with one flanker in particular looking to take the game in his own hands at every opportunity. There were some breaks when the ball came out back and Mary’s had the superior backline with some great handling of the greasy ball along with some fine offloads displayed. With so much back and forth up front there was little being given away by each team and it was another 10 mins until Mary’s won a penalty just inside the Navan 10 m line. A smart call was made here opting for the points and up stepped Harry with a huge kick to keep building the pressure on the visitors.
10-0 Mary’s 20 mins gone
Navan continued to put the pressure on up front and built slowly toward the Mary’s line. Mary’s defended well for a sustained period but Navan eventually broke our line to score in the corner after some big carries and added the conversion.
10-7 Mary’s 30 mins gone
Navan got back into the Marys 22 soon after the restart and piled on some big pressure , but the Marys pack held solid with nils and Rory putting in some great chop tackles to keep Navan out. In the backline the defence was also excellent with some great decisions under pressure from Denis, wogie and Shero. Mary’s worked slowly back up the field with great breaks from gibbo, campo and Lucas. After a clever kick from Shero, Jayden put in a huge chase and gave Navan no option but to run it from deep in their 22. They eventually managed to kick clear but Jayden again gathered and cleverly offloaded to Rory. After some great hands Aj made a break down the far wing gaining huge yards and putting Mary’s within striking distance. After some controlled rugby and composure Eoin Keating spotted the gap in the Navan pillars and drove over the line.
15-7 Mary’s 35 mins gone
Navan re gathered and got back down to apply some pressure where Mary’s got penalised for off side and Navan took the opportunity to add the points. Dara picked up a knock soon after with indiscipline creeping into the game after a late hit.
15-10 at the break
With very little between the sides at the break Navan we were going to come out strong and throw everything at this especially up front where it was becoming a real big battle. Dave made the necessary tactical changes with Boyler and Cian coming on. Lucas put in a huge shift and picked up a knock and our strong bench has been a huge factor all season. Richie who had a solid performance refocused the lads at half time and noting we had won some key battles on the pitch, this was the time for control and composure , doing the simple things right and not losing our discipline.
The second half started as expected with Navan throwing everything at us but the changes and half time talk did its job. Our changes had an immediate impact with Boyler putting in some huge tackles and Cian some massive carries. A huge performance from nils on the day earned him the MoM against who alongside Mattie Kennedy faced a tough Navan backrow , some say it was Dave’s boots that did the business here! Well done nils , solid game. Mary’s dominated the game in the second half with Navan making some subs and our bench proving much stronger. Christian , Marius and Kyle came on for Lucas, Jayden and campo who all had a solid performance. Another Mary’s score came soon when Navan were penalised for crooked into the scrum in their own 22. They were struggling to put back moves together as a result of the great Mary’s high defensive line. Mary’s scrum held well as it did throughout the game and wogie moved the ball to Denis where our back line had split to stretch the Navan defence , Denis then shifted the ball to Harry who had spotted the hole in the Navan line and hitting the ball at pace scored under the sticks. Harry then added the extras.
Ryan came off the bench for wogie and slotted in well. Kyle and Jack also made some great runs at the Navan backline with Cian , Christian and Boyler also making a big impact. As with any league campaign strength in depth on the bench especially with utility players creates problems for any opposing team. The Mary’s workrate and intensity in D was upsetting anything Navan tried to put together but they kept going. Another fine piece of defensive play by Denis saw him make a huge hit in midfield, followed by the turn over. This led to Mary’s building back up the field where cool heads were kept with Navan struggling with the scramble defence on their line giving away penalties at the breakdown. This eventually resulted in gibbo taking his opportunity to drive hard over the line and add another score.
27-10 Mary’s with the con hitting the sticks
Navan in fairness did come back to have another go only to knock on and give a scrum to Mary’s on our 5m. The ball came out the back where it was dropped behind the goal line but Denis recovered excellently where many wouldn’t and off loaded to Shero who also maintained great control to offload to jack out wide. This resulted in a remarkable run and kick chase with Jack finishing under the Navan sticks for a superb individual try, the best seen all year in junior rugby. Harry added the con.
34-10 Mary’s FT
This rounded off a polished performance from our J3s with some huge individual performances. This side continues to show composure and discipline at key moments in games and adapt their game plan to deal with what they face on the pitch. All features of a very well rounded side. Huge thanks to all the support on the sideline and everyone that continues to support this squad of players, most of all thanks to the players themselves who are providing some really entertaining rugby.
Well done lads.