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Naas 3 – Banbridge 6   29/02/2020

Storm Jorge was not able to cause a cancellation of the Division 1B game between Naas and Banbridge last Saturday afternoon, but it certainly was able to ruin the game as a spectacle. A driving wind, persistent rain and freezing temperatures made for terrible conditions, and all the players involved and indeed the spectators deserve a medal for their efforts. By all accounts the referee Shane Kiernans need a substantial amount of hot tea at the break before he was able to return to the pitch for the second half, while the backs on both sides were sprinting up and down the pitch during breaks in play in order to gain some heat into them.

The story of the game is easily told, and it certainly was not pretty. Banbridge played with the gale force wind at their backs in the first half and were quickly on the attack. They won three penalities in as many minutes at the start of the game, and refused a shot at goal in the belief that they would have to amass a big tally by the interval. Each time they went for the corner but on the third occassion they coughed up possession and Naas were able to clear.

However after nine minutes when Naas were penalised for not releasing Banbridge elected to go for the posts and Bruce Houston made no mistake with his effort to give the visitors the lead. After nineteen minutes the same player had the chance to increase their lead after Naas were penalised for coming in at the side of the ruck, but he pulled his effort to the right of the posts.

And that basically that is all there is to report from the opening 40 minutes. Naas managed the game very well in that opening half, good carries by Ryan Casey, Adam Coyle and David Benn meant they had plenty of possession, they were able to run down the clock and limit scoring chances to the Ulserman to a handful. In addition the Naas scrum looked very strong and won them three penalities.

So at the half-time it looked as if Naas were in a great position to gain a badly needed win, but within minutes of the restart it was obvious that they had a big challenge on their hands. Like Naas in the first half Banbridge showed they were capable of a big performance against the elements, and their big ball carriers meant they enjoyed plenty of possession, if not terriorty in the second half. Naas did have a big chance on 61 minutes when they forced Banbridge to concede a five-yard line-out but unfortunately for them Matthew Laird robbed the ball and the chance was gone.

However they did equalise after 69 minutes. As stated previously the Naas scrum was particulary impressive. When Banbridge were awarded a scrum 30 yards out from their own try line Naas drove them right back, and won a penalty which Peter Osborne successfully kicked to make it 3-3.

But Naas did not deal well with the restart and gave Banbridge a platform to launch an attack. The Ulstermen went through a huge amount of phases before Naas were penalised for hands in a ruck. The penalty was only 30 yards out and Bruce Houston struck it well, but the strength of the wind was emphasised by the fact that his effort dropped short.

But the visitors now had momentum and they went straight back on the attack. Naas could not get their hands on the ball and with two minutes remaining they conceded another penalty at ruck time. This penalty was just inside the 22 and Houston made no mistake with it to give Banbridge a lead which they easily maintained for the final 120 seconds.

So a losing bonus point was all Naas had to show for their efforts but as stated all the players involved were winners on a such a dreadful day. Next up for Naas is an away trip to Malone. This is on Saturday week, March 14th and all support will be greatly appreciated.

Naas: Peter Osborne, Joe Darcy, Craig Adams, James Hawkey, Ben Swindlehurst, Bryan Croke, Gary Kavanagh, Adam Coyle, Graham Reynolds, Peter King, Paul Monahan, David Benn, Eoin Walsh, Ryan Casey, Paulie Tolofua.  Replacements: Jack Barry, Conor McCormack, Johnny Holmes, Evan Coyle, Ruairi Cleary.
Banbridge: Adam Doherty, John Porter, Andrew Morrison, Josh Cromie, Joseph Finnegan, Bruce Houston, Jonathan Stewart, Callum Reid, John Andrew, Michael Cromie, Robin Sinton, Matthew Laird, Peter Cromie, Ryan Hughes, Greg Jones.  Replacements: Ross Haughey, Richard Graham, Dale Carson, Neil Kilpatrick, Ross Cartmill.

Other Naas RFC Results this weekend:
Junior 2: Metro 4 League Final:  Naas 10. UCD 23.
Under-20s:  Naas 12. Cill Dara 18.
Under-18s:  Naas 12. Tullow 14.
Under-16s:  Naas 24. Navan 5.


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