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Naas 22 - Malone 20   23/02/2019

Naas defeated league leaders Malone in a dramatic AIL Division 1B game played at Forenaughts last Saturday afternoon. After going behind in the closing stages when Malone received a highly debatable penalty, Naas snatched victory with the very last kick of the game, to send their supporters home in high spirits.After losing to St. Marys College last weekend a fired up Naas side emerged from the dressing room and quickly laid down a marker. They tore into their opponents, quickly putting them on the back foot, but despite owning the ball for the first ten minutes they failed to register a score. Indeed it looked as if Malone had weathered the storm as they had just got out of their own half for the first time when Naas struck after 14 minutes. Malone ran a ball on the Naas ten metre line, but Andy Ellis intercepted and sprinted clear to score under the posts. Peter Osborne tapped over the conversion to put the home side seven points in front. They doubled this on the half hour mark. From a promising attacking possession in the Malone 22 Naas lost the ball. However the clearance kick by Callum Smith failed to make touch and was well fielded by Ben O'Connor. He threw a long pass infield to Fionn Higgins who beat an attempted tackle before shipping the ball on to Peter Hastie who scored in the far corner. The difficult conversion attempt by Osborne was made look easy.14-0 was to be the interval score but it could have been even better for Naas. Osborne was unlucky to see a penalty effort rebound off the post, while many observers believed that Ben O'Connor scored a try just before half-time, but referee Shane Kierans deemed that he had knocked the ball on in the process of touching down.Malone are not league leaders for nothing and they showed their class within seven minutes of the restart. A brilliant passage of running rugby with some great offloads saw them go the length of the pitch, and led to Peter Cooper scoring a magnificent try which Mark O'Connor converted to reduce the arrears by half.However straight from the restart Naas scored their third try. They managed to win the restart, the ball was quickly moved out wide to Fionn Higgins, he chipped the ball over the Malone defence and won the race to touchdown for the score. Although the conversion was missed Naas now led 19-7.A Mark O'Connor penalty on 53 minutes kept Malone in touch, and they were right back in the game six minutes later when Ricky Greenwood crashed over for a try after sustained pressure by the Northern side. The conversion by O'Connor made it 19-17 to Naas.We then went twenty minutes without a score and time was running out for Malone when the referee made a decision that enraged the Naas supporters. Paulie Tolofua made a shuddering tackle on Ryan Clarke, that was very hard but legitimate. However the man in charge deemed it was high and Mark O'Connor slotted the penalty that appeared to have clinched victory for Malone.However Naas summoned up one last effort. Four minutes into injury time they were attacking Malone on the ten yard line when a pass was deliberately knocked on, and a penalty was awarded. The kick was far from easy but not for the first time this season Peter Osborne held his nerve, was successful with the kick and gained Naas an invaluable victory.This was a tremendous performance by Naas, with every squad member playing his part in victory. The win moves then up to third in the league table and in a great challenging position with five games remaining. The first of those takes place next Saturday afternoon with an away fixture against Ballynahinch. Kick-off is at 2.30pm and all support will be greatly appreciated.Naas: Fionn Carr, Ben O'Connor, Andrew Ellis, Johne Murphy, Fionn Higgins, Peter Hastie, Peter Osborne, Jordan Duggan, Graham Reynolds, Adam Coyle, Paul Monahan, David Benn, James Connolly, Will O'Brien, Paulie Tolofua. Replacements: Conor Doyle, Jack Barry, Ryan Casey, Niall Delahunt, Richard Fahy.Malone: Andy Bryans, Rory Campbell, Josh Pentland, Nathan Brown, Mark O'Connor, Callum Smith, Shane Kelly, Peter Cooper, Dan Kerr, Ricky Greenwood, Ryan Clarke, Michael Shields, Dave Cave, Ross Todd, Joe Dunleavy. Replacements: Adam McBurney, Ross Kane, James McAllister, Graeme Curtis, Dave McMaster.





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