TALLAGHT R.F.C. 7
Try: Stephen Heaney – 47mins
Con: Ciaran Stewart – 48mins
Unidare R.F.C. 3
Pen: Conor Grimes – 23mins
Spencer Pennant Round 1
7th Sep 2013 – Referee Martin Farrelly
Report by Denis Buckley.
Tallaght RFC had their first competitive game of the 2013/14 season against Unidare in Round One of the Spencer Pennant. In a game played in very good spirit by both sides, Tallaght fought well to hang on for the victory and although there was early season rustiness on show by both sides, it was a much more exciting encounter than the score-line might suggest.
Tallaght started well, recycling the ball quickly and moving it wide whenever the opportunity arose, maybe too often at times but you could not fault their endeavour. They were guilty of losing the ball too easily in contact, including conceding turnovers due to poorly formed mauls or being held up in the tackle.
But Tallaght more than made up for this with a massive effort and skill shown at ruck time to win ball that they had no right to. Paul Cunnigham set the scene after just five minutes by winning ball over the ruck and this was carried on later in the game by Sean Judd , Gary Doyle and more.
The kick and chase was excellent at times, again arising from a huge effort by many Tallaght players. But they were too often guilty of allowing the opposition straight through the middle, all be it by some good strong ball carriers from Unidare.
10mins in Al “fingers” Bernes pretended to fumble under the high ball to goad the opposition into a false sense of security, drawing tacklers which he easily side-stepped and counter attacked and left them for dead making 20 yards before being dragged to the ground; then another nice carry by Emil Wyrebiak with a kick through, ball turned over, but when they gathered, great pressure by Gary Doyle creates a superb turnover, which lead to a nice back line move that saw Ste Heaney narrowly bundled into touch, but which could have been so much more. A few minutes, later Joe Ivers stole the ball in the air on Unidare’s throw to win good possession.
Tallaght continued to defend well throughout the first half but gave away too many penalties, both in attack and defence, although most of them were not in kicking range and it was nearly a disadvantage to have your own throw in, as there was no clean lineout won for the first 20mins at least.
23mins in, the first clean line win by Unidare, leads to scrum in our 22, which saw them attacking our try line with Tallaght fortunate only to concede 3 from a penalty for offside. Conor Grimes, Unidare out-half, converted to leave Unidare leading on a score line of 3 to nothing.
On the half hour mark, Sam lawless was impressive again, breaking through several tackles, recycling quickly to the ever versatile Emil Wyrebiak who moved from wing last week to open-side this week. Sam and Emil worked well together throughout the game, with Emil always available on Sam’s shoulder for a layoff.
35mins in Al Bernes and Gary Doyle combined to “choke tackle” a unidare player in possession until Paul Cunningham and more support arrived leading to a Tallaght put-in to the scrum.
60 seconds later by yet another Superb Break from the back of the scrum from Sam Lawless who once again off-loaded to Emil, recycled for Morgo’s great break into Unidare’s 22, which eventually lead to a penalty for off-side and a very near miss by Ciarán just before half time. Although Tallaght were not finished yet and probably could have crossed the white wash again a minute later but a pass went astray.
In the 2nd half, still leading 3-0, Unidare started stronger, broke through too easily and once again could have scored, but for a knock on near the line. However, Tallaght hit back straight away with Gary Doyle chasing up Ciaran Rudd’s kick and pouncing on and winning the ball, even though it appeared he was impeded off the ball.
The try came after shortly after half time, with a move which originated from a Tallaght lineout taken well at 2 by Paul Cunningham. An ensuing maul made 15 yards or more before being recycled out to Ciaran Stewart who showed great awareness to spot a gap and sold an excellent dummy to break through. He was eventually tackled but fast ball by scrum half, Aodhan Tinney, made sure the move was continued with Unidare defence still not properly set. The ball moved through Dave Clarke who gave a great skip pass to Gary Doyle who straightened up, sidestepped one tackler and drew the final defender, before offloading to Steve Heaney on the wing. Ste made the finish look easy but he had made a great support run and ensured that the consequent successful conversion by Ciarán Stewart, was a lot easier than it might have been, by nearly reaching the posts before touching down. 50minutes in: Tallaght 7, Unidare 3.
And that was how the scored stayed although there were many anxious moments for Tallaght in the last 30mins some of which follow in the best bits here:
Tallaght’s Best Bits:
- As always, Al Bernes had wonderful and some less than wonderful moments at full back, but bar one “how the hell did you allow that to bounce?” moment, he marshalled his area quite well, with some sparks of brilliance.
- Cameo appearances from Morgo, making the opposition look like an underage side.
- Two well struck penalties from Ciaran Stewart, which both just barely drifted wide.
- Tallaght held their own in the scrum, which is encouraging in the light of the new rule changes for this season.
- Lineouts were not as perfect as previous weeks but the Olly Murphy/Paul Cunningham combination began to blossom as the game carried on!
- Sean Judd, an inspired choice at loose head, brought a much needed dynamism to the front row. Not to be outdone, fellow front-rower Declan Malone, showed some great skills with the ball in hand and then some not – he had to be reminded that props are not to be used for deft touches, no matter how clinical his skip pass was!
- Ciarán “not-so-pretty-now” Rudd, with an impressive looking bloody nose!
- Superb Support from the side-line, immortalised on the soundtrack of the video coverage by Ray Brennan advise that of the advantage of using the touchline
- Hooker Olly “I have the scrum-half” Murphy’s, worrying of the Unidare scrum-half during their Lineouts!
- Outhalf, Ciarán Stewart put in some great touch finders, getting great distance with every penalty and clearance.
- There were some great breaks by Sam Lawless, some great turnovers by Sean Judd. There was apparently an amazing a tackle by Joe Ivers, not that anyone can remember it though, as it was so tremendously eclipsed by Ste “the brick wall” Heaney’s awesome try saving and in all likelihood, match saving tackle.
While coach, Brian “the Shuffle” Curtis, will know there is plenty to work on, he can only be happy with not just the manner of the hard fought victory but of the effort that each and every player, from 1 through 20, that took the pitch.
Special Thanks to Ray Brennan from www.theclubreferee.com for his match tracker and video coverage. Also, the “unknown” soup and rolls were an inspired and welcome addition to the after match dressing rooms, thanks to Mairéad Hayden.
Stephen Heaney was awarded man of the match. Coach Brian Curtis put it simply: “Stephen Heaney: well deserved man-of-the-match, with an outstanding try and an even more outstanding try saving tackle. Stephens’ moments of brilliance were the difference between the 2 teams.”
15 Alan Bernes
14 Garry Doyle
13 Ciarán Rudd
12 Dave Clarke (Captain)
11 Stephen Heaney
10 Ciaran Stewart
9 Aodhan Tinney
8 Sam Lawless
7 Emil Wyrebiak
6 Paul Cunningham
5 Joe Ivers
4 Alan Moore
3 Declan Malone
2 Ollie Murphy
1 Seán Judd
Steve “Minnesota fats” Kelly