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St. Mary’s College 15 – Naas 25   14/02/2020

Naas travelled to Templeville Road last Friday night to face St. Mary’s College and with their best performance of the season they left with a vital victory. There was no fluke about this win, as apart from the opening quarter they totally dominated and were fully merited victors.

The game was played in perfect conditions with Storm Dennis still to arrive on the east coast and as stated it was the home side who started brightly, and they took the lead after nine minutes. Naas lost the ball in midfield and Mary’s countered quickly with Craig Kennedy kicking ahead. Craig Adams did well to recover the ball for Naas, but he was forced into touch giving Mary’s a line-out five yards from the line. Nick McCarthy won this for the home side and they then set up a perfect driving maul which saw Richard Halpin crash over for the try. Michael O’Gara added the conversion to give them a seven point lead. On twenty minutes they extended this to ten. Following a series of attacks by Mary’s the Naas defence was stretched and they conceded a penalty for handling the ball in a ruck. O’Gara made no mistake with the penalty opportunity.

Within three minutes Naas responded. This came from a great break by Peter Osborne who from deep in his own half took play right up to the Mary’s 22. The attack was carried on by Bryan Croke and after he was tackled the home back line strayed offside and Osborne slotted the resulting penalty.

Naas really took the game to the home side after that. The likes of Peter King, David Benn, Paul Monahan and Ryan Casey carried with purpose, putting Mary’s on the back foot and with Gary Kavanagh linking the play superbly, the Naas backs had quality ball to work with. Four minutes before the interval they levelled the game. From a scrum forty yards out good handling by the Naas backs set up a decent attack. The ball was shipped out wide to Matt Stapleton, he offloaded superbly to Joe Darcy and he was then on hand to take the return pass and score in the corner. The conversion was extremely difficult but Peter Osborne was up to the challenge. Things almost got even better for Naas as with the final attack of the half David Benn was within inches of adding another try. However even though the scores were level at the break there was a sense that Naas had taken control and so it proved.
The visitors were on top at the start of the second half forcing Mary’s to defence for long periods and after 55 minutes the home sides resistance was finally broken. Wave after wave of Naas attacks were coming at them, and they finally ran out of defenders as Bryan Croke found the space to sprint clear and score under the posts. Osborne added the extras and within four minutes Naas put another nail in the Mary’s coffin. The home side lost their captain Thomas O’Reilly to a yellow card for a high tackle on Gary Kavanagh, and the subsequent penalty was dispatched into touch by Naas. David Benn rose high to take this, the ball was quickly moved into midfield before Naas attacked to the right where Benn was lurking out on the wing to take the ball and crash over. Although the conversion was missed Naas led by 22-10.

A bonus try point was now in the sight of the visitors and a storming 30 yard break by Ryan Casey put them back on the attack almost straight away. They remained camped in the Mary’s 22 but on 77 minutes they spilled the ball and the home side countered impressively. They took play right up to the Naas line and won a penalty for hands in a ruck. They elected for a line-out and from this a series of pick and drives saw Cillian Dempsey dive over a try. Although the conversion was missed Mary’s were now in a position to take a losing bonus point or snatch a dramatic draw.
However they were to get neither. In injury time with one last desperate attempt to score the home side attempted to run a ball from deep in their own half, but were penalised for holding on in a ruck and Peter Osborne successfully kicked the penalty to deny Mary’s anything out of the game.
This was a very impressive performance by Naas and the team rebuilding which took place at the start of the season is now bearing dividends. Victory here was the third successive one for them since the turn of the new year, and there is now serious momentum behind them. Next Saturday they face another huge test when travelling to Thomond Park to face Shannon. It is a journey they can take with confidence and all support will be greatly appreciated for a game that kicks off at 2.30pm.

St. Mary’s College: Mark Fogarty, Hugo Conway, Ryan O’Loughlin, Myles Carey, Craig Kennedy, Michael O’Gara, Patrick O’Driscoll, Thomas O’Reilly, Richard Halpin, Michael McCormack, Peter Starrett, Hugo Diepman, David Apsil, Cillian Dempsey, Nick McCarthy. Replacements: Sean Healy, Niall McEniff, Liam Curran, Matthew Timmons, Ruairi Shields.
Naas: Peter Osborne, Joe Darcy, Craig Adams, Ben Swindlehurst, Matt Stapleton, Bryan Croke, Gary Kavanagh, Adam Coyle, Graham Reynolds, Peter King, Paul Monahan, David Benn, Eoin Walsh, Ryan Casey, Paulie Tolofua. Replacements: Conor Doyle, Conor McCormack, Johnny Holmes, Tom Brady, Barry Finan.

Other Naas RFC Results this weekend:
Junior 2: Naas 31. Old Belvedere 10
Under-20s: Naas 22. Tullamore 6.
Under-18s: Naas 45. Kilkenny 0.


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