Balbriggan 52 v Garda 5
Balbriggan secured a well deserved and convincing victory in the Leinster League on Sunday, beating Garda RFC in Balbriggan 52 v 5. This is the fourth win on the trot for Balbriggan and confirms their place in Leinster League Div 2B with one match to spare in the pool stages of this competition.
Before the match started, both teams observed a minute’s silence in memory of the late Garda Tony Golden.
Though Balbriggan finished convincing winners in the match, they did not start off too brightly. Fresh from watching Ireland play Argentina in the Rugby World Cup, they made a slow start to this Sunday evening fixture. Garda, who had won their last two league matches, got off to a flyer and after working the ball through a number of phases scored a well worked try through their back within the first five minutes. Though the conversion was missed this was an ideal way to settle the visitors nerves and to put pressure on their hosts. Balbriggan took a while to settle themselves into the game, but they eventually struck back with a try of their own after 12 minutes in what was their first foray into Garda territory. Scrum half Kyle Healy converted his own try from left of the posts and Balbriggan were in the lead at 7 v 5. This sparked a very lively period of pressure from Balbriggan who strung attack after attack together mixing things up with slick interplay between forwards and backs. On 17 minutes Balbriggan were in for their second try. This came off a moment of brilliance by Kyle Healy. The scrum half chipped a kick forward from outside the Garda 10 metre line, followed up and gathered the ball and ran in for a lovely solo try which he again converted. Balbriggan were in the lead 14 v 5. If Balbriggan were beginning to think that they would have things all their own way they were soon reminded that they needed to be on their guard. Loose forward Connor Burke made an amazing try saving tackle just two minutes after Balbriggan’s second try. Garda had attacked from the restart and through a series of attacks had set their right winger clear only to be hauled to the ground five yards from the line by the brilliant Burke. This spurred Balbriggan back into action. They upped the ante again and attacking from deep within their own half of the field, they made headway into the Garda half. Their forwards moved the ball near to the left hand touch line, before the ball was swept across the pitch through the hands of forwards and backs. Giant second row Anthony Whelan, who had one of his best performances for Balbriggan and who is enjoying a rich vein of form, ran in to score Balbriggan’s third try on 25 minutes. This try, unconverted, was followed up soon after with the fourth try of the afternoon for the home side thereby securing the try bonus point. Balbriggan had turned the ball over and kicked it long, finding touch 7 metres from the Garda line. Sean Malone stole the Garda ball in the line out and burst through for a wonderful solo effort. Kyle Healy added the conversion from a difficult angle. Balbriggan were now 26 v 5 to the good and the steam was beginning to go out of the visitors efforts. Their day became all the more difficult when Balbriggan began one more sweeping move through their backs with just a couple of minutes of the first half left. Con Casey showed his class by finishing the move off with a fifth try for Balbriggan, his first of the afternoon. The conversion was missed but Balbriggan were 31 v 5 in the lead as the first half ended.
The first 15 – 20 minutes of the second half were largely uneventful. garda spent much of their time inside the Balbriggan half but could not make their pressure in this period count. Stout Balbriggan defending kept the visitors from adding to their first half try. Then 20 minutes into the second half, Balbriggan turned the ball over near their own 10 metre line. Anthony Whelan sold a dummy pass, lost the Garda defender, pinned his ears back and tore down field. About to be tackled he kicked the ball long and this loose ball was pounced on by Con Casey who ran in for his second try which was converted by Healy. There was a further period of relative stalemate in which both teams made a number of substitutions, some of which were forced through injury. With 35 minutes of the second half played, Balbriggan earned a penalty near the Garda 22. Kyle Healy ran the penalty, and his pop pass to captain Ciaran Malone resulted in Malone scoring beside the Garda posts. Healy converted the try that his quick actions had help to make. The days action was finished off by Con Casey securing his hat trick, a try that was also converted by Healy. Balbriggan scored 8 tries in total, six of which were converted. The 1st XV will have a week off before playing their last pool game away to Midland Warriors in Moate on Sunday 1st November.
Balbriggan’s 2nd XV also secured a victory in the McGee Cup on Friday night. They beat Virginia RFC 17 v 14. Our Ladies team weren’t so lucky this weekend, losing out to Gorey 7 v 17 on Sunday.
Team: C McDonnell, J Davis, A McKiernan, G Dennis, A Whelan, S Malone, C Burke, C Malone, K Healy, I Murphy, S Keegan, J Mullen, C Casey, D Staunton, P Mann. (Subs M Brennan, L O’Toole, C Bateman, S Keogh, D McGhee)