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IRFU Community News

Ballynahinch 13 – Naas 5   02/03/2019

In what turned out to be a war of attrition Naas came up narrowly short in this All Ireland League Division 1B game last Saturday. Naas travelled in high spirits after beating the leaders Malone in their previous game, but were met with dreadful conditions. A howling near gale force breeze added to some torrential downpours made conditions tough for playes and spectators alike.

The away side played with the advantage of the elements in the first half but found Ballynahinch tough and stubborn opponents. They defended bravely against a series of Naas attacks, and their ploy of taking a scrum everytime they were awarded a penalty was a very good way of running down the clock.

However although Naas lost Ben O’Connor to injury in the opening stages they did take the lead after 23 minutes. Graham Reynolds did paricularly well to rip a ball from a ruck on the ten metre line. He passed to Jordan Duggan who made some valuable yards, Paulie Tolofua took on the attack, and he fed Adam Coyle on the right wing. The prop then showed the pace of a winger to sprint clear and score in the corner. Peter Osborne had the misfortune to see his conversion attempt bounce off the upright but Naas led by 5-0.

They had a chance to stretch this after 33 minutes. A superb scrum drove Ballynahinch backwards and referee Paul Haycock had no hesitation in awarding a penalty. However Osborne was narrowly wide with this attempt and this proved to be the last chance of the half.

A five point lead did not look to be enough for Naas given the strength of the breeze, but some heroic defence forced the Northern side to work extremely hard for victory. They gained the lead after 52 minutes. A series of pick and drives by their pack put Naas right back on their line and led to Zac McCall picking up from the base of a ruck and driving over. Jonny McPhillips added the extras and the home side led 7-5.

A long range effort from McPhilips on 71 minutes extended their lead, but the visitors still had a losing bonus point deep into injury time when disaster struck. Naas had a scrum in their own 22 and in a desperate attempt to win the game they decided to run. However their attack was stopped before they crossed the gain line and they were then penalised for holding on in the ruck. McPhillips again was successful with his kick, depriving Naas of the bonus point they richly deserved.

While this game will not last long in the memory, nobody could fault the effort of the Naas side. Facing a Ballynahinch side boosted by four Ulster Academy players they all gave it 100% and on another day would have gained something for their efforts. They have a chance to right matters next Saturday afternoon when facing new pacesetters Old Wesley. Naas defeated their Dublin rivals 31-23 in a thriller at Donnybrook last November and hopefully a similar outcome will be forthcoming next weekend. Kick-off is at 2.30pm and all support will be greatly appreciated.

Ballynanhinch: Ross Adair, Richard Reaney, Robin Harte, Rory Butler, Aaron Cairns, Jonny McPhillips, Rhys McDonnell, Jonny Blair, Zac McCall, Conor Piper, John Donnan, Jack Regan, Keith Dickson, Bradley Luney, Conal Boomer. Replacements:Clayton Milligan, Ben Cullen, Graham McKittrick, Ryan Wilson, George Pringle.

Naas: Fionn Carr, Fionn Higgins, Andrew Ellis, Johne Murphy, Ben O’Connor, Peter Hastie, Peter Osborne, Jordan Duggan, Graham Reynolds, Adam Coyle, Paul Monahan, David Benn, Ryan Casey, Will O’Brien, Paulie Tolofua. Replacements:Conor Doyle, Jack Barry ,Ruadhan McDonnell, Niall Delahunt, Richard Fahy.





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