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Naas 10 – St. Marys College 16   29/11/2019

Naas entertained St. Mary’s College at home last Friday night and in a very entertaining game they lost narrowly, albeit picking up a losing bonus point in the process. With both sides endeavouring to spread the ball wide at every opportunity this game was played at a tremendous pace, and the large crowd that turned up to watch were richly entertained.

Both sides missed an early opportunity to register scores. On 11 minutes Ruairi Shields was off target after Naas were penalised for collasping a ruck. Within two minutes Naas came even closer to scoring. Mary’s conceded a shot at goal for having hands in a ruck, but Peter Osborne had the misfortune to see his attempt strike the upright.

A moment of inspiration by Mark Fogarty on 20 minutes created the next chance. The Mary’s full-back fielded a high ball just outside his own 22 and took off on a superb run, evading many Naas attempted tackles in the process. He made almost 40 yards before being stopped, and when the ball was recycled Shields put in a fine crossfield kick that was gathered by Hugo Conway. It took a tremendous try saving by Bryan Croke to stop a certain score, but for the next ten minutes the game was dominated by the visitors. They again came close to scoring when Cormac Foley picked at the base of the scrum but could not ground the ball over the line, while on another occasion they knocked on when they had the Naas defence stretched. Finally on 31 minutes the pressure paid off. Naas centre James Hawkey was penalised for a ruck infringement – he received a yellow card for his troubles – and this time Shields make no mistake with his kick to open the scoring.

Within sixty seconds the sides were level. Marys attempted to run the restart out from their own 22, but coughed up possession and then conceded a penalty for not rolling away at a ruck, which Peter Osborne slotted over. Both kickers had another attempt before the half-time whistle. On 38 minutes Shields restored the Marys lead after the Naas backs strayed offside, and with the last kick of the half, Osborne was narrowly wide with a long range effort after the visitors were penalised for hands in a ruck.

The second half continued at a ferocious pace and it was the home side who struck first. On 50 minutes Matt Stapleton launched a high up and under and did brilliantly to field his own kick. When tackled Naas quickly moved the ball out to the left and Fionn Higgins was on hand to finish off a great move and score in the corner. From right out on the touchline Peter Osborne struck a magnificent conversion to put the home side 10-6 in front.

To their credit Marys raised their game after this. They put the Naas defence under tremendous pressure and it took a great tackle by Osborne to stop Craig Kennedy scoring on 64 minutes. However almost immediately after this they sufferered a big blow when Paulie Tolofua received a yellow card for a no arms tackle. Michael O’Gara kicked this penalty over to reduce the gap to a point and soon afterwards the away side were back in front. Myles Carey sliced through the home defence and when he was tackled near the 22, there was a three man overlap out to the left. Marys made no mistake in taking this chance with Craig Kennedy sliding in at the corner, and with O’Gara adding the conversion they now led 16-10.

Naas tried desperately to rescue the ball and they nearly pulled it out of the fire. They came very close on 78 minutes when a crossfield kick by Bryan Croke was fielded by Fionn Higgins but he could not managed to ground the ball and was eventually bundled into touch. Naas continued to press and streched the Marys defence on a couple of occasions but could not land the killer blow. Indeed the visitors were a little lucky not to receive a yellow card, as the penalties they conceded in the last few minutes added up. However they managed to hold on and claim the victory with Naas having the small consolation of a losing point.

Indeed this was the third losing point that Naas have picked up this season which shows they are not far off the pace. Every match you can see improvment and it would be no suprise if they were about to go on a winning run. Next up for them is an away fixture next Saturday, December 7th to Old Belverdere in Ollie Campbell Park at 5pm, and this followed by a home fixture the following Friday night, December 13th at8pm. All support will greatly appreciated.

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, Paulie Tolofua, Mike Russell, Ben Swindlehurst.

St. Mary’s College: Mark Fogarty, Hugh Conway, Myles Carey, Michael O’Gara, Craig Kennedy, Ruairi Shields, Cormac Foley, Thomas O’Reilly, Richard Halpin, Michael McCormack, Peter Starrett, Liam Corcoran, David Aspil, Cillian Dempsey, Nick McCarthy. Replacements: Sean Healy, Padriag Dundon, Hugh Diepman, Matthew Timmons, Ryan O’Loughlin, Adam McEvoy, Ben Watson.

Other Naas RFC Results this weekend:

Junior1: Naas 25. Barnhall 15.

Under-20s: Naas 14. Blackrock 11.

Under-18s: Naas 42. North Kildare 5.

Under-16s: Naas 29. Portlaoise 7.

Naas Women 76. Navan 5.


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