Roscrea 15 v Balbriggan 10
Balbriggan’s IXV went down to their first defeat of the season losing narrowly away to Roscrea on Sunday, 15 v 10. This was the first match of Leinster League Div 2B proper after the initial pool stage of the competition. Roscrea had won all their matches in pool 1 whilst Balbriggan had won all their matches in pool 2. This was always going to be a momentous clash between the only unbeaten teams in Leinster League Div 2B and for much of the game, Balbriggan not only led, but were clearly on top. Playing against a gale force wind in the first half, Balbriggan had to withstand some early pressure, being pinned back inside their 10 metre line for the first 10 minutes or so. Stout defending by both forwards and backs kept Roscrea out and Balbriggan were able to slowly march Roscrea upfield. From early in the game, Balbriggan’s pack gained a dominance and this eventually led to a try through Captain Ciaran Malone. Although Roscrea managed a penalty in reply it was Balbriggan who ended the first half on the attack. Indeed, Balbriggan came within inches of second try late in the first half. Half time score 3 v 5.
Balbriggan had a strong wind behind them for the second half and looked forward to the possibility of pinning Roscrea back deep into their own half. However the second half started on a bizarre note. Roscrea relieved early pressure to move the ball upfield to just inside the Balbriggan 22. At this point it was noticed that Roscrea were playing with a full 15 players even though one of their number had been sent to the sin bin just on half time. The referee did a head count and realised the error. He sent the player back into the bin for the remainder of his 10 minutes but allowed play to continue with an attacking lineout. Balbriggan were able to turn the ball over and worked their way back down field towards the Roscrea line. Relentless Balbriggan pressure and some swift hands through forwards and backs led to Balbriggan scoring a well-worked try through winger David Healy in the corner. The conversion came off the post leaving the score 3 v 10. Balbriggan then spent 20 minutes camped inside the Roscrea 22. They had a series of scrums on the Roscrea 5 metre line and with a dominant scrum seemed ready to push the Tipp men over their own line. A score at this stage would surely have sealed the victory for the visitors. However, instead of keeping the ball tight through their dominant forwards, Balbriggan opted to move the ball through the backs. Twenty minutes of pressure came to nothing and Roscrea were able to relieve the pressure. With just under 15 minutes remaining Roscrea managed to score a try in the left corner against the run of play.To add insult to injury the Roscrea kicker landed the conversion from the touch line and against the gale force wind. This leveled matters at 10 v 10. From the restart Roscrea ran the ball back at Balbriggan and through a mix up in the Balbriggan defence the home side soon scored a second try in the same left corner. Balbriggan heads didn’t drop and the team put in a mighty effort for the remaining 10 minutes or so of the match. Tommy O’Toole came close in the left corner and the forwards were held up short in the right hand corner. Despite their best efforts it wasn’t to be. Balbriggan were deeply disappointed not to have won a famous victory away to a very strong Roscrea outfit but can be proud of a brilliant performance, especially through the mighty effort put in by the forwards. The front row of Loose head prop Paddy Joyce, hooker Jon Davis and tight head Alan McKiernan were imperious and were ably assisted by the efforts of locks Anto Whelan and Chris McDonnell. McDonnell later moved into the front row when McKiernan came off. Jay Mullen put in some mighty tackles in mid field, David and Kyle Healy and Con Casey were also impressive amongst the backs. In truth thought the entire team should be proud of a magnificent performance. Balbriggan are home next week against Wexford Wanderers.
Team: A Whelan, A McKiernan, C McDonnell, C Malone, C Casey, C Burke, D Healy, D Staunton, J Mullen, K Healy, P Joyce, S Malone, J Davis, T O’Toole, C Verdon, (subs) G O’Reilly, S Keegan, I Murphy, C Bateman, M Browne