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Naas 16 – Shannon 14   16/11/2019

A moment of individual brilliance deep into injury time, added to some outstanding defence and questionable decision making by Shannon, led to Naas continuing their recent tremendous record against their Munster rivals at Forenaughts last Saturday afternoon. For once the weather gods shined on Naas as the game was played on a perfect day for rugby, it was dry and crisp with little or no wind. Shannon are always a big draw when they come to Naas, this was no expection with a large crowd in attendance and from the off both sides opted to play an very open brand of rugby.

After nine minutes the home side went in front. Good carries by James Hawkey and Adam Coyle put Naas on the attack and Shannon conceded a penalty for hands in a ruck which Peter Osborne slotted over. From then until half-time Shannon had the better of the exchanges but they were met by a stubborn Naas defence and only managed one score for their dominance. This came after 29 minutes. They were awarded a penalty in front of the posts but declined the shot at goal and kicked for the corner. Although it was to work for them on his occasion they were to rue spurning similiar opportunites later on. From the line-out they set up a driving maul from which referee Shane Kierans awarded them another penalty for Naas collapsing. With a free play advantage Ben Daly chipped over the Naas defence and Conor Glynn won the race to touchdown for a try. This score was disputed as too most observers it appeared that he was over the deadball line when touching the ball, but the referee had no hesitation in awarding it, and with Daly adding the conversion Shannon led 7-3.

They should have added to this on 39 minutes. Ben Swindlehurst was a bit unlucky to receive a yellow card which the referee awarded for persistent fouling. It was a certain three points for Shannon but they elected to go for a scrum. They attempted a pushover try but the Naas pack were having none of it, meaning the Munstermen had to move the ball wide. From the subsequent ruck they were penalised for holding on and Naas were able to clear the danger. The home side also received a boost after 36 minutes when Paulie Tolofua came on as a replacement. The inspirational club captain was making his first appearance of the season, after a long spell on the sidelines due to injury and he wasted little time in announcing his comeback with a series of shuddering tackles.

Naas started the second half really well and reduced the lead within four minutes. Big carries by Mikey Russell and Ryan Casey saw the home side charge into the Shannon 22, and they won a penalty when the Shannon backs went offside. Peter Osborne slotted this over and there was now only one point between the sides at 7-6.

The game then went back to the pattern of the first half with Shannon again enjoying the majority of possession. On 59 minutes another shot at goal was declined with the penalty again kicked to touch. This time the driving maul was stopped legally, the referee told them to use the ball and this time they were penalised for crossing. Naas punished this almost immediately. Shannon took an age to deal with a long kick downfield by Bryan Croke which subsequently led to them being penalised for sealing off in a ruck. Peter Osborne made no mistake with a difficult kick and Naas led 9-7.

Shannon refused another shot at goal on 66 minutes, but they did regain the lead four minutes later. They set up a good driving maul, were patient going through the phases and a lovely reverse pass by Craig Casey found Pa Ryan to dive over for the score. Ben Daly added the conversion putting them 14-9 in front.

After suffering a few heartbreaking close losses this season it looked like another one was on the cards for Naas here. But nobody told the players this. They tore into Shannon in a bid to rescue the game and it looked like they were successful on 78 minutes. Some lovely handling by the backs created space for Craig Adams on the left side and a brilliant finish saw him score in the corner. However the touch judge ruled that he had a foot in touch which saw the score ruled out, and to compound matters Naas were penalised for arguing the decision and Shannon could clear their lines with the penalty.

However five minutes into injury time Naas snatched the game. They had a scrum 40 yards out from the Shannon line and drove their opponents right back. It should have been a penalty to the home side, but the referee just decided that the scrum had to be reset. From this Peter Osborne passed to Fionn Higgins, and appeared to be very little on when he received the ball. But some fancy foot work saw him leave three would be tacklers in his wake, and suddenly there was a big overlap to his left. However he backed himself to score which he did by cooly sidestepping Jamie McGarry to score under the posts. An inspirational score but although the conversion seemed a formality Peter Osborne was under a lot of pressure as he stood over it. Thankfully he held himself together and calmly added the extras, and with the referee blowing the full-time whistle immediately Naas had gained a great victory.

This success was hard earned. The Naas team had to be brave and battle right to the end against a very good Shannon side. The front five were immense in the scrums with Adam Coyle, Graham Reynolds and Jack Barry to the fore. The back-row led by Ryan Casey tackled themselves to a standstill while Paulie Tolofua and Mikey Russell added signficantly when introduced. The half-backs Peter Osborne and Bryan Croke kicked well, James Hawkey in particular was solid in midfield while Fionn Higgins again showed what a finisher he is by making something out of nothing.

Next up for Naas is another home fixture against St. Mary’s College. This is on next Friday week, November 29th with an 8pm kick-off and all support will be greatly appreciated.

Naas: Niall Delahunt, Fionn Higgins, Ben Swindlehurst, James Hawkey, Craig Adams, Bryan Croke, Peter Osborne, Jack Barry, Graham Reynolds, Adam Coyle, Gary Rowan, David Benn, Ruadhan McDonnell, Tom Brady, Ryan Casey. Replacements:Conor Doyle, Conor McCormack, Mike Russell, Paulie Tolofua, Gary Kavanagh.

Shannon: Jamie McGarry, Nathan Randles, Pa Ryan, Daragh Oxley, Ikem Ugwueru, Ben Daly, Craig Casey, Conor Glynn, Eoghan Clarke, Tony Cusack, Ronan Coffey, Lee Nicholas, Charlie Carmody, Colm Heffernan, Luke Clohessy. Replacements: Adam Moloney, Luke Rigney, Kelvin Broan, Eathon Moloney, Keith Kavanagh.

Other Naas RFC Results this weekend:

Under-18s: Naas 50. Mullingar 12.

Under-15s: Naas 15. Carlow 10.

Under-13s: Naas 52. Edenderry 7. Naas 21. Navan 7.


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