January 23rd saw a pivotal match in Metro Division 6 and a must win encounter for St. Marys J4s against a Naas team looking to beat the J4s for a second time this season. With both sides built to play tough, physical rugby and a pitch a little worse for wear, this one had all the hallmarks of a tight, tense game and that exactly what we got.
Both sides began as they would mean to continue with the majority of the first half locked at no score. Marys enjoyed the bulk of the possession in this period with strong carrying from Captain David Balfour and loosehead prop Taylor Berliant. A strong kicking game from outhalf Dave Daly allowed Marys to keep the pressure on Naas but it would be the visitors to register the first points of the afternoon with two penalties, giving a half time scoreline of 6-0 in favour of Naas.
The second half began in much the same way that the first had ended with Naas slowly growing in confidence as the game progressed. The visitors controlled the ball slowly down the field despite a great defensive effort from the likes of Mick Daly and Karl O’Sullivan, who put their bodies on the line time and time again. However, as so often happens in tight games, a lucky bounce of the ball can be the difference between two sides and a fortuitous cross field kick from Naas five meters out handed them an invaluable try and with the conversion they now led 13-0.
Never ones to roll over and take a beating, the fours continued to fight their way back into the game and they finally got the breakthrough they were searching for with Captain Balfour picking the ball from the back of a scrum to go over for the try. The conversion from Dave Daly meant a scoreline of 13-7 with ten minutes to go. Both sides went hunting for a score as time expired with the Naas missing a penalty with 90 seconds remaining. Some quick hands on the restart looked as though Marys could have been on for a score but the last pass just failed to go to hand. The ball was cleared to touch and the final whistle sounded. A tough loss for the fours as they now set out to spoil the party for the rest of the division 6 title hopefuls.
Final Score: Naas 13 – St. Marys 7
By Chris Kane