J5 XV v Rugby INEF Correcaminos 24.02.2024 Tempeville Road

St. Mary’s College RFC J5 XV vs Rugby INEF Correcaminos


Tempeville Road

It was a perfect day for the J5s first run-out of the season – crisp, calm and sunny with good soft ground underfoot. The gameday side was put together through collaboration between Junior Rugby, Vets and U20s squads, with Dave Gardner, Fran Pender and Vinny Murray all providing key players to bolster the developing J5s group. We faced a confident, competitive and athletic Spanish side who came to play in numbers. Colin Burkley got the game underway with a blast of his whistle and we could finally put months of training to the test. Coach Owen Clery’s gameplan was simple – be measured and controlled to start, systematically figuring out where the defensive weaknesses might be, but most importantly keeping control of the ball. It became very quickly evident that the J5s were not going to things their own way. INEF Correcaminos doggedly attacked every breakdown, putting scrum-half Caglar Tuc under immense pressure to move the ball, which he expertly did, hitting pod after pod to maintain momentum. Huge carries from our towering locks Dave Dixon and Sean Tracey kept St. Mary’s marching forward. A penalty at the breakdown afforded St. Mary’s their first real attacking chance of the game, out-half Harry Fanning kicking for the corner flag with precision, putting the pack into a superb attacking position. The subsequent lineout maul was a thing of genuine beauty – Hugo Lorente plucking the ball from the air and transferring to the rumbling pack, with Dixon waiting until he had left the try line a good two meters behind him before dropping to the deck to score. The angle proved a little tricky – conversion missed. There was no time to revel in this early success with the Spanish side working the ball wide to score their first of the game. With a clean conversion St. Mary’s trailed by 2. St. Mary’s found themselves attacking again and making good ground with huge carries from props Aaron Doherty and Anun . Following some good interplay between backs and forwards, James Casey, riding a tackle, popped the ball up for rampaging centre Karl O’Brien to score under the posts. Harry added the extras. St. Mary’s extended their lead through the nimble feet and power of Marius Haghighi who, playing like a back despite a night of heavy celebrating following the J4s win over DLSP the night before, swept across the try line to score – again, Harry slotted the conversion. Despite brave defending in the wide channels by Cody Dwyer and Barry Norman, a period of sustained pressure from the Spanish side resulted in a converted try for the visitors following Karl O’Brien taking a team yellow card for repeated infringements at the breakdown. Kevin Perry found himself very busy at full back cleaning up probing kicks for territory and getting back to the line with blistering pace. Centre Eric Dunne then scythed through his opposite number and, with a deft, self-described Sonny-Bill-esque flick, popped the ball up for James Collery to charge on to, shipping the ball to Cody who carried into heavy traffic only for Collery to regain the ball and trundle over for a try. Karl re-joined the fray directly after half time, replacing Harry at out half. St. Mary’s pack, strengthened by the addition of Liam Sardinha and Johhny Stevenson, continued to dominate both attacking and defending scrums. David Balfour was monumental at flanker throughout; it was a common sight to see him charging up-field with 4 or 5 defenders struggling to drag him to the deck. St. Mary’s scrum dominance yielded results where a pick-and-go move put Karl on the front foot to carry over for his second of the day, he added the conversion to his fine tally. The backs were also enjoying periods of success with Norman Maziwasa working hard to stay in field, dancing down the side-line to get over the whitewash, making the score 36-12 heading into the third quarter. On the opposite wing Aidan Manahan made valuable ground with each carry and defended doggedly. However, INEF Correcaminos rallied and spotted that fatigue was setting in among the home side and capitalised on St. Mary’s losing their shape both in attack and defence. Coach Owen Clery laced up his boots and took to the pitch to reintroduce calm and method to finish out the day, but the Spanish were enjoying a fruitful period, crossing the line and successfully converting twice in rapid succession closing the gap to 36-26. Clery’s cool head and the reintroduction of Harry at out half (seeing him and father, Aidan, on the field for the first time together) steadied the ship with St. Mary’s fighting their way to the Spanish line where Harry spotted an opening and darted for the posts for a game-securing score… only it wasn’t to be, Colin Burkley’s eagle eye spotted a rare knock-on – no try. Not taking their foot off the peddle, St. Mary’s didn’t let INEF Correcaminos out of their own half, working hard to force an error which came following a defending scrum. Karl pressuring the 10 and tackling him in his own in-goal area. With full-time approaching St. Mary’s attacking scrum held firm and Casey carried from the base to score. With the clock in the red, Marius stepped up to take the conversion, shanking his kick right and wide ending the day at 41-26. The J5s would like to offer our sincere gratitude to Mossy Davin, Fran Pender, Dave Gardner, Vinny Murray, Owen, Chris, Tony and all the bar staff, the club and ground staff and, of course, Rugby INEF Correcaminos for a memorable and competitive game.

James Casey