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Malone 36 – Naas 20 2018-11-24 17:00:00

First and second in Division 1B of the All-Ireland League took each other on, when Malone entertained Naas in Gibson Park last Saturday. A dream start by the Ulstermen left Naas with too big a mountain to climb and saw Malone overtake them at the top of the table. 

Naas travelled to this fixture in confident form having defeated Old Wesley in their previous fixture, but could not have imagined a worst start here. Within ninty seconds they suffered the major blow of losing winger Fionn Higgins to injury, and by the 25th minute they were no less than 21 points


The Ulstermen struck on four minutes. Naas were penalised for crossing and Malone kicked the penalty to touch 15 yards from the line. The home side set up a driving maul and when this was stopped some fine handling by the backs swiftly moved the ball out to winger Nathan Brown to score. Rory Campbell who was to have a fine game confidently knocked over the conversion from the sideline to put Malone seven points ahead. 

Naas responded quickly and scored on 11 minutes. Good carries by Cathal Duff, David Benn and Will O’Brien carved open the Malone defence and gave Andy Ellis to chance to score. Ellis who had come on for Fionn Higgins made no mistake and dived in at the corner. 

Although the conversion was missed Naas were right back in the game at 7-5, but were to concede no less than three tries in the next fourteen minutes. Firstly Malone won a penalty after a scrum and elected to run it. Stewart Moore then chipped the ball in behind the Naas defence and Ben McCaughey won the race for the touchdown. On 18 minutes Naas were penalised for a crooked line-out and Malone opted for a scrum. From this they pounded away at the Naas line and showed great patience until Rory Campbell was on hand to crash over. Then on the 25th minute Naas ran a ball in their own half but looked on in dismay as Peter Cooper intercepted and the big prop had enough in the tank to just make the line to score a fourth and bonus point try for his side. Rory Campbell converted two of these tries – he hit the post with his other effort – and Malone were 26-5 in front. 

Naas to their credit finished the half strongly. Firstly Peter Osborne slotted over a penalty after 29 minutes when Malone were penalised for crossing, and then just on the stroke of half-time Jordan Fitzpatrick just failed to mark his All-Ireland League debut with a try when he was just unable to ground the ball after getting over the line.

Rory Campbell missed a penalty on 48 minutes to stretch the Malone lead, but he was on hand five minutes later to take a pass from Josh Pentland to score another try the Ulstermen, and with the successful conversion they now led 33-8. The game was over now as a contest but Naas did rally. Good breaks by Paulie Tolofua and Adam Coyle pierced the Malone defence and led to Peter Osborne scoring a try after 58 minutes, and then a crunching tackle by Tolofua on 66 minutes put Naas back on the attack and saw Max Whittingham scoring a third try for this side. The conversion

by Osborne reduced the lead to 33-20.

However Malone were to have the final say when Callum Smith kicked a penalty with six minutes remaining to give the Ulstermen a totally deserved victory on a 36-20 scoreline. This win for Malone puts them on top of the league, one point ahead of Naas with another five points back to the third team Banbridge. Naas have a chance to get this game out of their system quickly as they are back in action next Saturday when they entertain St. Marys College. Kick-off is at 2.30pm and all support will be greatly appreciated.

Malone: Rory Campbell, Ben McCaughey, Stewart Moore, Josh Pentland, Nathan Brown, Callum Smith, Shane Kelly, Peter Cooper, Danny Kerr, Ross Kane, Jonathon Davis, Michael Sheils, Dave Cave, Matthew Hadden, Ryan Clarke. Replacements: Scott Finaly, Ben Halliday, Josh Davidson, Graeme

Curtis, Davy McMaster.

Naas: Peter Osborne, Fionn Higgins, Jordan Fitzpatrick, Johne Murphy, Niall Delahunt, Peter Hastie, Max Whittingham, Jordan Duggan, Cathal Duff, Conor Doyle, Paul Monahan, David Benn, Will O’Brien, James Connolly, Paulie Tolofua. Replacements: Graham Reynolds, Adam Coyle, Cillian Dempsey, Andrew Ellis, Ryan Casey.


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