J3 XV v Seapoint (H) – 20.01.2024

J3 XV v Seapoint
Metro Division 7
Tempeville Road
Saturday 20th January 2024

The freezing conditions during the week had most pitches called off and today was a lucky break with some milder conditions allowing this game to go ahead. Thanks to Dave and Richie the squad got a session in on Wednesday on an all weather with some good ball work done ahead of this big game.
After an impressive win against Navan last week, today brought the visit of league leaders Seapoint. When we met them away  earlier in the year it just wasn’t our day and we knew after this game that this team had much bigger performances in them and were well able to more than compete with any team in this league. Since this day Seapoint have been the team to beat and they brought all their experience and tough game mentality with them today.

Dave , Fran , Malo and John got the warmup going on the J1 pitch and given the task at hand the squad got their focus on the warm up from the off. There were some pre game nerves out there but even in the warmup it was characteristic of this squad to see the experienced heads calm the intensity where required and re focus on accuracy and execution.

Just as the first game against Seapoint the wind again was a huge factor and Mary’s opted to play against a strong breeze in the first half.

Onto the first pitch and as the crowd gathered this was set up to be a huge battle of first v second. From the start the battle of the packs was on and Mary’s had the better possession early on. Seapoint were slower to get into the pace of the game given the intensity of Mary’s attacking every opportunity and not settling just to be in the game. Seapoint did defend well at times and did  use the wind effectively to gain some huge yards when they broke with good lines or from backfield kicks. The Mary’s defence held firm with Denis putting in another huge performance here and our wingers jack and Kyle covering well. Shero again put in a clever full back performance with smart kicking, ball recovery and a perfectly weighted pass for a try assist. His performance on the day winning the MOM trophy. Marys piled on the early intensity and this led to Seapoint giving away a high tackle penalty within 5m of their line. Marys opted for the tap and go but Seapoint held firm and held up the ball on their line, leading to them being able to exit and clear their lines. There were some heavy hits early on and this was to be a feature of this game throughout with campo, dom, Dara and Harry all picking up knocks. Seapoint brought a big pack and from early on this is where the big game battle was going to be. Our backline was technically better and had more to offer in this game , with the early breaks from Seapoint out back helped on by the wind. Given the battle up front on this heavy pitch it was quite a while until a score came  with Mary’s striking first. After some big hits in midfield Mary’s broke from their own half and after some quick hands, our backline had Seapoint on the back foot scrambling to defend and Denis Daly exposed their weak wing to get over in the corner. The conversion was a huge kick and given the wind was a difficult one to slot over.
5-0 Mary’s 15 mins gone

The pack battle raged on with our resident saffa dom putting in big carries and big hits along with campo tackling hard. Seapoint had a hard day at the office and at times both teams were in the trenches with the game turning into a proper top of the table clash , each team refusing to back down and a tight game throughout. Our scrum held firm against another big , experienced pack with Lucas , eoin and Boyler working well together. Our line out  was also solid bar one or two lost on a windy day in Tempeville. Rory and nils put in solid put a big display on a day where it was about doing the dirty work in the trenches and battling for yards. Richie moved to flanker for this game which worked to contain any threat here and also done the ugly work at the rucks often not seen.

Seapoint kept plugging away and did get back down to the Mary’s line where we held firm for a quite a while but eventually gave away a high tackle penalty. Seapoint were slow to make a decision at which point they had already the tee on the pitch. The resulting penalty was missed. Seapoint quickly got back down into the Mary’s 22 where we had to clear our lines , the resulting kick was gathered by the Seapoint full back who was hit hard in the midfield by Kyle on his returning run, a colossal hit deemed high by the ref. Seapoint piled on the pressure with HT approaching , a kick over the Mary’s line had to be touched down by Shero who had no other option here. Dara took the goal line drop and managed to find a perfect touch with ball bouncing out. However Seapoint were now getting into the game and after some great Mary’s defence they got over in the corner before the break. On a good note here the con was very difficult and the score remained 5-5 at half time.

The league leaders brought a full squad and plenty of back team support as expected and this game was beginning to feel like a cup final. After a huge shift in the first half with some big knocks the second was going to become a battle of nerves and of the benches. As the second half progressed the strength in depth of the Mary’s squad was to prove a huge difference in the sides. Mary’s were now playing with the wind and when an early penalty opportunity presented itself Harry took the points.
8-5 Mary’s

Mary’s used the bench well with Christian , Aj, Haydo, Cian and Dan all getting good minutes in. Seapoint came out energised after a try close to HT but our subs and senior players kept focused and after some hard yards won Cian who was only on the pitch carried hard under the Seapoint posts to score a well worked try.
Harry added the con
15-5 Mary’s

The battle continued and it took its toll on the game with both Seapoint and Mary’s having a number of injuries , a busy day for the med bag. Despite the Seapoint changes they kept going and defensively Mary’s put in a huge performance on the day. While the intensity of the game was beginning to show on each side Mary’s still produced cleaner ball and were technically superior at the ruck in every part of the field. After another break by Christian in the middle of the field the ball was quickly recycled and Dara and wogie pulled the trigger on another piece of champagne rugby. Dara flighted a lovely pass to Harry who drew the defender perfectly and whipped out another lovely pass to Shero who remained composed and passed perfectly into the path of Aj to get over in the corner. A very well worked team try and the likes of which would be at home at the RDS.
20-5 Mary’s

Seapoint to their credit did put on a late charge and had Marys under sustained pressure on their line for the closing few minutes. At this point with all the tired bodies the game got somewhat scrappy , Mary’s put in a brave display to keep Seapoint out for so long but they eventually got over in the corner. The con was missed and dropped short , Mary’s eventually recycled the ball to kick it out of play to end this massive game.

Another huge result and thanks to all who turned up to support this side and continue in this impressive league run with this group, we look forward to your continued support. Thanks to Dave , John , Fran and Malo for the warm and getting in a session during the coldest week of the year. Only one game in focus now and that’s Belvo who have to come to Mary’s back yard next week.

Chris O’Connor