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Naas 21 - Shannon 14
Naas 21 - Shannon 14
With the weather forcing a postponement of their fixture against Ballynahinch the previous week, Naas resumed their Ulster Bank All-Ireland League campaign last Saturday. This was certainly a fixture which emphasised the rapid strides Naas are making, as here they were hosting Shannon, one of the most iconic and famous clubs in the country, and holder of a record nine League titles.
The bad weather of the previous week seemed an age ago as this game was played on a dry, crisp day and not surprisingly a huge crowd turned up for this clash.
Naas certainly came out fired up and within two minutes had a try on the board and fittingly it came from Peter Osborne. Earlier this week he received the news that he has been selected in the Ireland Club intenational squad for the game against England in Cork next Friday. A truly tremendous achievement by the player and totally merited. On this occassion he received the ball from Henry Bryce who had made a great break in midfield. However he still had a lot to do, but he put in a clever chip behind the Shannon defence which he gathered himself and scored under the posts. He also added the conversion to give Naas a seven point lead.
The next 20 minutes belonged to Shannon. The majority of it was played in the Naas half and the visitors were rewarded with two Ronan McKenna penalties before they took the lead. Henry Bryce received a yellow card for getting into an altercation with a couple of Shannon players and McKenna slotted the subsequent penalty to put them 9-7 in front.
Naas now had to play the next ten minutes with just 14 men but ironically they were to enjoy their most fruitful period of the match with two tries. On 29 minutes after a spell on sustained pressure Peter Howard shrugged off a couple of tacklers to score. Ninety seconds later Peter Osborne sliced through the Shannon defence before passing to Howard who sprinted clear to score in the corner. With Osborne converting both Naas led 21-9, a lead they took into the interval break.
Shannon needed a good start to the second half and that is exactly what they got. After winning a five yard line-out, they formed a driving maul which a number of the backs joined. It was one of these, centre Will Leonard who was awarded the try after Shannon forced their way over. McKenna was unlucky to see his conversion attempt come back off the posts but his side were right back in the contest at just 14-21 down.
Surprisingly though this was to be the last score of the game. Naas tried everything to get a fourth try and a bonus point, but it just would not come, and to their credit Shannon put in a big finish that almost saw them secure a draw. But it was not to be and Naas held on for a victory that sees them remain in third with just four games remaining.
Next up for Naas is an away fixture against the leaders Buccaneers on Saturday week, March 25th.
Naas: Peter Osborne, Fionn Carr, Johne Murphy, Henry Bryce, Peter Howard, Ben Swindlehurst, Max Whittingham, Adam Coyle, Graham Reynolds, Jason Harney, Paul Monahan, David Benn, Andrew Kearney, Will O'Brien, Paulie Tolofua. Replacements: Warren Larkin, Jordan Duggan, Cillian Dempsey, Eoin Walsh, Michael Skelton.