Balbriggan RFC’s women’s Team beat their nearest rivals Greystones RFC in the Leinster League on Sunday, 0 v 5. This top of the table clash was billed as the pivotal game in Leinster League Division 4. Going into the match, Balbriggan were 4 points clear of their nearest rivals Greystones, but had played a game more. This was a return fixture, the previous encounter in Balbriggan earlier in the season ending in a 5 v 5 draw.
Given that the two teams were first and second in the Table and that they had drawn their previous match in the league, this was always likely to be a close, hard fought encounter. And so it was to prove. The first half raced by a blur of fast paced high octane action. The teams were very evenly balanced, both teams enjoying periods of pressure in their opponents half in that first period. The half ended with Balbriggan beginning to gain some measure of control through a sustained period of pressure in the Greystones half of the pitch. However honours were even at the turn with the score at 0 v 0.
Balbriggan turned to face into the breeze in the second half; and what a second half it would prove to be. Balbriggan quickly established field position in the Greystones 22 and were to remain there for all but the final 3 – 4 minutes of the second half. The game now evolved into a war of attrition with Balbriggan constantly working through the phases, using forwards and backs to inch their way towards the Greystones line. Captain Sandra McAleer bravely charged down a clearance kick, putting her body on the line for her team. That effort alone epitomised the guts and determination of the Balbriggan team and helped maintain territory for the visitors whilst keeping pressure on the hosts. Others did their bit for the cause including Marie Claire Bellew who led the tackle count for the visitors, ably assisted by others including Dearbhla Sheridan at out-half and Michelle Hutcheson and Anne O’Brien. The pack worked really hard and out scrummaged their hosts whilst the lineout purred efficiently throughout the game. Greystones for their part defended their line heroically, putting in countless crunching tackles and showed their discipline by conceding few penalties in the siege of the second half. Balbriggan were held up just short of the Greystones line on a number of occasions. Scrum half Aoife Casey went over for a try mid way through the second half in the left corner, only for the touch judge to raise the flag for a foot in touch, inches out from the corner flag. The break through finally came after Balbriggan broke from a scrum to the left of the Greystones Posts on the Greystones 22. The Balbriggan pack mauled their way forward and after a number pf phases with their forwards, drew the Greystones defenders in, creating an overlap on Balbriggan’s right wing. Quick hands by the Balbriggan back line sent Balbriggan winger Val Van Veen over in the right hand corner, touching the ball down whilst holding off the despairing tackles from two Greystones defenders. The conversion came up short so Balbriggan only held a narrow 5 point lead with about 5 minutes of the game left.
Greystones had no choice but to throw caution to the wind. They were awarded a series of penalties all of which they chose to run rather than kick to the corner. Balbriggan’s defence held firm, and the relief to the team, management and sizeable travelling support in the stand in Dr. Hickey Park was obvious to all.
This victory puts Balbriggan clear of Greystones by 7 points, though Greystones still have that game in hand. There are some difficult games ahead in the New Year, but for now, Balbriggan ladies can enjoy their Christmas break happy in the knowledge that they are on top of the Leinster League.