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Naas 12 – Navan 15   20/12/2019

After a superb victory over Old Belvedere the previous weekend Naas went into their fixture against Navan in fine form last Friday night. With a big crowd full of the joys of Christmas in attendance, another win for the home side seemed on the cards, but to their credit Navan spoiled the party and in doing so claimed their first victory of the season.

The game was played on a dry, crisp night and Naas started off at a blistering pace and within two minutes they put the scoreboard operator into action. From a ruck just outside the 22 some good handling by James Hawkey and Fionn Higgins created space for Niall Delahunt, and he sprinted clear to score in the corner. Although the conversion was missed Naas led by five points and the game was already going along predictable lines.

However if anything this dream start appeared to work against Naas. They lost their intensity and focus and Navan took over in both the possession and terriority stakes. By the tenth minute the visitors were level when from a driving maul Shane Faulkner crashed over for a try, and although Colm O’Reilly missed the conversion he made no mistake when given a penalty opportunity on 22 minutes, after Naas were penalised for hands in a ruck. This gave Navan the lead which they maintained up to the interval, although Peter Osborne was unlucky to see his long range penalty attempt for Naas drift narrowly wide just before the half-time whistle was blown.

Naas fell further behind on 51 minutes. They were struggling to cope with Navan’s driving maul and the visitors used this weapon again to score, when following a line-out take by Conor Hand, they set it up, drove Naas right back and Colm Carpenter dived over. This time O’Reilly made no mistake with the conversion and Navan were 15-5 up.

Naas had to respond and to their credit they did, and within eight minutes they reduced the margin when Bryan Croke made a great break up the right flank, when tackled he offloaded to Fionn Higgins  and he was never going to be stopped. Peter Osborne kicked the conversion and now there was just one score between the teams and the momentum was with Naas.

But the last twenty minutes was to be extremely frustrating for them. Peter Osborne came close with a penalty attempt to level the game, they lost a couple of crucial line-outs in good attacking positions, and also gave away penalities for holding on at ruck time when the ball carrier got isolated. However nobody could fault their effort but for them it was just one of those nights.

Indeed their woes was compounded by an incident seven minutes from time. After Colm O’Reilly fielded a high ball he was immediately tackled by Fionn Higgins. Yes it was high but it certainly looked worse than it was as the Navanman was ducking into the tackle at the time. The referee Eoghan Cross did not seem sure what to do, but after consulting the touch judge he produced a red card for the very unfortunate Naas player.

After that Navan were comfortable in holding on to claim their victory which not surprisingly was celebrated jubiliantly by their supporters. However Naas will not have to wait long for their chance to gain revenge as the teams meet again in Navan on January 11th. Kick-off is at 2.30pm and all support will be greatly appreciated.

Naas: Niall Delahunt, Fionn Higgins, Ben Swindlehurst, James Hawkey, Matt Stapleton, Bryan Croke, Peter Osborne, Conor Doyle, Graham Reynolds, Adam Coyle, Paul Monahan, David Benn, Eoin Walsh, Ryan Casey, Paulie Tolofua.Replacements: Conor McCormack, Jack Barry, Tom Brady, Craig Adams, Gary Kavanagh.

Navan: Raymond Maloney, Evan Dixon, Chris Ebeling, Kyle Dixon, Ben McEntagart, Colm O’Reilly, Ruairidh Swan, Niall Farrelly, Shane Faulkner, Eoin King, Darragh Magee, Conor Hand, Colm Carpenter, James O’Neill, Conor Ryan. Replacements: Brian McGovern, Leigh Jackson, Ronan Meegan, Riaan Van Der Vyver, Christian Byrne.


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