Balbriggan 13 Birr 9
The match started well with Balbriggan on the offensive and quick ball being generated for the backs. A penalty was kicked to the corner and after a good maul and getting the ball across the field where Andrew Miller finished off for the opening score.
Unfortunately, Balbriggan gifted 3 points straight back when Balbriggan were adjudged offside when the kick off was, per the referee knocked forward by Balbriggan and then picked up by a Balbriggan player. On the side line it appeared to have been a Birr tap back and Balbriggan were ok, but such is life.
Balbriggan had the best of the play but continually were being penalised at the breakdown. This was also the fact last week, the team need to sort this out with referees as it is not very visible from the touchline what they were doing different to Birr. Birr were tackling well and seemed also top have a second man in to jackal and benefitted from that. It eventually led to Birr going 6-5 in to the lead at half time. Balbriggan had enough opportunity in the first half and again Tomas Murphy made some good breaks as did Dylan Staunton. Too often they were getting isolated. There appeared to be very little communication amongst the Balbriggan backs as to what they were going to do. Scrum half Wall kicked at times but the wingers were not expecting it and could not be up with it.
Balbriggan had the most of the possession in the second half but again too many mistakes and penalties meant they were not getting too the line. Eventually they put a play together and Graham Reynolds lurking on the wing and was able to power over to grab the lead again.
The match stayed at 10-6 of most of the half with little progress being made. Skipper Murphy again putting in a high number of tackles. Birr managed to pull back another penalty to get the score to 10-9. With 10 minutes to go, Jack Scannell stretched Balbriggan’s lead to 13-9 with a penalty kick. The tight score left Balbriggan with an edgy few minutes to the final whistle.
The plus point was the power of the Balbriggan scrum during the afternoon where they won a number of penalties. As noted, there was too much misfiring. Plenty to work on during the week. With such a talented set of backs there is a need to get them working in unison and to get the ball to them quickly. While the forwards are able to take on any pack in their Division up front it is time to let the backs shine.
Leaders Edenderry are now 11 points ahead though we have a game in hand. Even if we take a bonus point from Edenderry next week and get 5 points from our extra game we will still be behind by a point so we are need Edenderry to drop a point somewhere. Edenderry also made up the points difference with their 50 -26 win against Arklow on Sunday. We are 6 points ahead of Roscrea so we should hopefully be in a position to stay ahead of them and at worst qualify for the playoffs, where it currently Newbridge are in the relegation play off place but New Ross and North Kildare are not out of trouble!