Midland Warriors 9 Balbriggan 13
Balbriggan had their toughest match of the season when they narrowly scrapped the warriors in Moate last Sunday. On a beautiful afternoon for Rugby with a strong sun giving Balbriggan some problems in the first half this all action game kept everyone going until the final whistle.
In the first 25 minutes the Warriors were awarded 5 kickable penalties but only managed to convert two of them, from a Balbriggan perspective that was maybe not a bad position to be in as some of the decisions were very hard to comprehend and did not seem to have anything to do with what had happened on the pitch.
Eventually Balbriggan got into the Warriors half and after the pack delivered good ball it got held up in mid field when Kieran Verdon was held up and the pressure was relieved. As the half ticked on Balbriggan were putting on more pressure and gaining more territorial advantage. The pressure eventually paid off with a penalty awarded just 5 metres out. Balbriggan skipper, Malone picked from the back and went for the line but was held up short. With a penalty advantage coming Balbriggan flashed the ball across the line but the referee called them back when a case of handbags on the line saw Balbriggan second row being sat on by his opposite number. The referee decided to give both yellow cards but Balbriggan decided to go for a scrum even being one down. The wily old front row of Joyce, Davis and McDonald then earned Balbriggan a penalty try which Healy converted to give Balbriggan a narrow half time lead.
From the kick off the Warriors offended and Healy added a further three points. The Warriors came back but the Balbriggan defence was one part of the game that was in tip top form. At one stage the Warriors attacked but good counter rucking by the forwards was Balbriggan gain possession and out half Casey made a massive clearing kick to get Balbriggan out of danger. Eventually the pressure paid off and the Warriors got a penalty and kicked to the corner but were unable to get across the line. They managed to move the ball across the line and the ref adjudged Balbriggan offside in the centre. The game was back to a one point game.
Balbriggan attempted a long penalty but it ended up short but the Warriors didn’t deal with the clearance well and winger Staunton put them under pressure again and another penalty was earned which this time Healy converted to restore the important 4 point lead. Warriors now had to score a try. From the kick off Balbriggan put themselves under pressure when the experienced McFadden who had just come on the field for Sean Malone, spilled the kick off. Malone had played himself to a standstill with his usual all round display. Balbriggan were put under further pressure when Jay Mullen was adjudged to have made a dangerous tackle even if the Warriors player did not go over shoulder height and was placed on the ground. The referee then for the second time in the game over ruled the touch judge to give the Warriors an advantage. With skipper Malone leading from the front Balbriggan defended as if their lives depended on it and held out for a narrow victory.
Not the best of performances by the League leaders but they knew how to win. The overall performance was lethargic, particularly in the backs and despite the good ball Casey was distributing it was not getting across the lines quick enough. Overall discipline was good, particularly when so many decisions went against them. At the end of the day it was the old heads for the hard road and the front row earned their dinner today. The overall man of the match was Skipper Malone who lead from the front and seemed to be everywhere.
Next up Ratoath at home next Sunday at 2.30pm
S Mullen , A Sweetman,(D McGrogan) C Verdon. J Mullen, D Staunton, C Casey, K Healy, P Cullen (P Joyce) J Davis, C McDonald, A Whelan, G Dennis, (M Geraghty), S Malone (I McFadden) M Fay, C Malone