Balbriggan 41 Ratoath 8
Rugby will hog the sports headlines for the seven weeks, with Ireland getting off to a great start against Canada, and the Japanese shocking South Africa; what a day’s rugby on Saturday. Sunday saw the All Blacks fight a tough dual with the Argentinians.
However on Friday it was Balbriggan’s turn to lay down a marker of intent for the season, but to be fair to the opposition the end score line flattered the home side a little and didn’t reflect the effort the visitors put into the game.
Ratoath now coached by former Balbriggan CRO had put in a lot of work on the training ground over the last few weeks and were a much improved side as compared to the side that appeared in the Beachie Cup a few weeks previous. They had a lot more structure to their game and put the Balbriggan side under great pressure in the opening quarter. In particular they didn’t give Balbriggan any time to settle on the ball. It was Ratoath who opened the scoring when they made a good break through the Balbriggan line.
As usual it was the Malone brothers who were making good ground for the home team. A good break by Ciaran Verdon got Balbriggan up to near the 5 metre line and failure by Ratoath to properly defend, allowed skipper Malone to get in for the first score from the ensuing maul. Score 5-5 but Ratoath quickly regained the lead with a penalty. Again Balbriggan came back and a steal at the front of the line out let the ball out the line and outhalf Murphy fed J Mullen who with a lovely show and go left the Ratoath defence flat footed to score under the post. This was reminiscent of the Mullen of old as he continues to regain fitness. Healy added the conversion and a further penalty to leave Balbriggan 15 – 8 up at half time.
The defensive line out was Ratoath’s big weakness and Balbriggan added three more second half tries from poor defending of the line-out. The best of these was from just inside the half when the Malone brothers combined to let skipper Ciaran in for his second try. He went on to add a third close to the end.
The backs didn’t have much opportunity to run but with their one move that saw the ball send out the line saw winger Healy score in the corner. Out half Murphy made a strong run from outside the 22 metres to add the last score of the night.
A good win but still bits to work on. Others to impress were Mark Brown at wing forward and Mark Geraghty in the second row. However for the second week, Man of the match has to go to Skipper Malone with his hat trick of tries.
Next Sunday when Ireland are facing up to Romania, Balbriggan will be facing up to Birr in Co Offaly in their first Leinster match. They will be without a couple of their front line players who will be supporting Ireland on the day.