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Banbridge 13 – Naas 3   09/11/2019

Naas travelled to Banbridge last Saturday for their latest Energia All-Ireland League Division 1B game. As has been the theme this Winter the game was played in appalling conditions, with driving rain and an icy breeze making life difficult for both players and spectators.

The story of the game is easily told. With open, runnning rugby not on the cards with the weather, both teams did not have to commit many players to the rucks, thus enabling them to have ample numbers in defence, meaning space and scoring chances were at a premium. A try in these conditions would be a huge score and Banbridge struck for one after just nine minutes. After winning a penalty on half-way they kicked for the corner. From the subsequent line-out they went through a series of phases and when Adam Doherty was stopped just short of the line, Ryan Hughes was on hand to pick up and dive over for the opening score. Doherty converted and Banbridge led 7-0.

Naas enjoyed the better of the exchanges for the remainder of the half but only had a Peter Osborne penalty on 30 minutes to show for this dominance. This was awarded for dangerous play by Matthew Laird who led with his forearm into a ruck, which saw him receive a yellow card. From straight on the front of the posts Osborne made no mistake.

However it could have been a whole lot better for Naas, as they spurned some decent opportunites to score. On 14 minutes they turned down a chance of a kick at goal and dispatched the penalty into touch. From the line-out they set up a driving maul but somehow contrived to lose the ball and Banbridge were able to clear. Then on 30 minutes Banbridge were again penalised – this time for hands in a ruck – giving Naas a free play. From this Bryan Croke put in a great crossfield kick that Fionn Higgins just failed to gather with a try looking likely. They went back for the penalty and Naas elected to take a scrum which was collapsed. To their dismay referee Paul Haycock deemed Naas to be a fault for this giving Banbridge a penalty. In addition Peter Osborne was just short with a difficult penalty attempt on 24 minutes, all of which meant that Naas trailed 7-3 at the interval.

If anything conditions got worse in the second half and the lack of floodlights meant that visibility was not the greatest, leading to a very stop/start game. Naas lost Fionn Higgins early on to a yellow card but survived the ten minutes of this without conceding, but on 60 minutes Ben Swindlehurst also received a card for a high tackle, which Doherty punished by succcesfully kicking the penalty to increase the lead for the home side to 10-3.

However Naas still have a losing bonus point in their grasp but this was snatched from them on 74 mintues. Despite playing with 14 men – Robin Sinton was the latest player to receive a yellow card, for another high tackle – Banbridge went on the attack and Adam Doherty launched a high up and under. The ball appeared to be knocked backwards by Naas and then cleared, but the referee saw it differently. He said that the ball was knocked on and thus Naas cleared from an offside position and awarded Banbridge a penalty. Doherty was again successful with his kick and the Northmen now led by 13-3, an advantage which they maintained to the final whistle.

So another defeat for Naas, in spite of fine performances from Adam Coyle, Paul Monahan, Johnny Holmes, Tom Brady, Bryan Croke and Niall Delahunt in particular. However one victory could turn the whole season around, and they have another chance to gain this when they play Shannon at home next Saturday afternoon. Kick-off is at 2.30pm and all support will be greatly appreciated.

Banbridge: Adam Doherty, Connor Fields, Andrew Morrison, Josh Cromie, Joseph Finnegan, Bruce Houston, Jonathan Stewart, Callum Reid, Peter Cromie, Michael Cromie, Matthew Laird, David O’Connor, David McCann, Ryan Hughes, Greg Jones.Replacements: Ross Haughey, Stu Cromie, Robin Sinton, Neil Fitzpatrick, Ross Cartmill.

Naas: Niall Delahunt, Fionn Higgins, Craig Adams, James Hawkey, Matt Stapleton, Bryan Croke, Peter Osborne, Conor Doyle, Graham Reynolds, Adam Coyle, Paul Monahan, David Benn, Johnny Holmes, Tom Brady, Ryan Casey. Replacements: Conor McCormack, Jack Barry, Ruadhan McDonnell, Ben Swindlehurst, Mark Sutton.

Other Naas RFC Results this weekend:

J1: Naas 22 Greystones 5.

Under-20s: Naas 29. De La Salle Palmerstown 34.

Under-18s: Naas 18. Dundalk 14.

Under-16s: Naas 29. Portlaoise 12

Naas Women 22. Portlaoise 10.


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