Metro League Division 2 23 November Lansdowne back pitch
Lansdowne 22 – 7 Greystones
The phrase “spitting bullets” well describes how the J2’s came out on to the back pitch at HQ on Saturday afternoon against Greystones’ J1’s. After two games best forgotten, our lads had point to prove … and didn’t they just!
They opened straight from the kick-off with Shane Kennedy ripping the ball from an unfortunate Greystones player who must have thought he’d ease himself into the game gently … big mistake! And so it continued for the opening ten minutes. We harassed and bullied the visitors for the brief periods they had the ball, our defence acting as an offensive weapon, and when we won possession back, we held on to it, varying short, long and left and right attacks. The visitors had arrived in relaxed form but after the first ten-minute blitz, they were feeling anything but rested.
The first try came when Gareth Malloy (Slugger), set Will McEvoy off on the left of a ruck on the 22m line, spotting the temporary numerical advantage on that side. Will broke the gain line and a less experienced player might have then sent it outside to Paddy Moore, but instead Will switched the ball back inside to the supporting Oran James and doing so, split the defence further. So, when Oran unleashed the inch perfect 20m pass across to a still charging Paddy on the touchline, Paddy had the sweetest of jobs to run the last 15m to take it over the line. As a small “thankyou” for the pass, he took the ball in another 20m before touching down, easing Oran’s conversion attempt. 7 – 0.
That might have been candidate for try of the season, were it not for what followed. We continued to dominate all aspects of the play, Dr Phil even marveling at the “joyful symmetry” between forwards and backs. We were relentless in our focussed aggression in defence so when we won the ball, there tended to be spaces for us to exploit. The Greystones defences were starting to wilt and they conceded a penalty for going in off their feet just inside their 22m line. The ref’s hand went up and players and spectators in unison shouted, “free ball”. Oran seized the advantage and swept up the ball from the side of the ruck and ran into heavy Greystones traffic. But as they waited slightly flat-footed for his advance, he dropped the ball deftly onto the outside of his right foot, chipping it over their heads with perfect weight so it bounced up perfectly for him to catch and run the last 10m over the line unimpeded. Breath-taking. He knocked over the conversion and five minutes later for good measure he slotted over a penalty making it 17 – 0 at half time.
For periods of the second half, specifically the third quarter, we let Greystones slow the game down and the whole thing got a bit scrappy. Matters weren’t helped with Oran went off five minutes after the restart, but full back Peter Fitzgerald switched back seamlessly into the position he had been keeping warm for Oran in his recent absence.
Greystones enjoyed territorial advantage for much of this period, but they also suffered from injuries and exhaustion as the arm wrestle that the second half had become wore on. Our superior fitness and resolve bore out as we entered the last 15 minutes. We finally re-established a presence in their half and started attacking with the same variety and ruthlessness as we had in the first. Counter attacking runs from winger, Ger O’Conner saw us claw our way out of our own half and though he, Shane Donnelly and Garry Quilligan were all held up short of the line, the constant onslaught eventually proved too much for the visitors and Alex McEvoy charged through the middle for a well taken try. 22 – 0.
Fair play to Greystones for hanging in there. Depleted by injuries and the exhaustion of being on the back foot for most of the game, they still conjured up a counter-attack and scored a consolation try in the last few minutes
22 – 7 full time. Cracking stuff.
Match report – Brian Whelan