The long awaited Junior Cup day finally arrived! Newbridge were all set to
rectify the wrong of being defeated in the Junior League semi final to the same opposition back in December. The conditions were good for rugby - mild breeze, dry day and solid enough underfoot. The game was always going to be close and it wasn’t until the middle of the 2nd half, that Newbridge could be somewhat confident of the win. Gavin Burke got the first points on the board with a well taken penalty. A little while later, James Healy scored a a try in the corner following a great team effort to create the overlap on the wing. Roscrea responded not too long after with a try in the corner, but just before half time, Jake Howlett scored under the posts. The half time score: Newbridge – 13, Roscrea – 5. Roscrea started the second half better and a little bit of lax defence led to a try in the corner, which was converted to leave the minimum between the sides. The pack who had played well right throughout the game kept driving on, from either runners off Mark (scrum half) or pick and goes. They’re competence in the ruck along with aggressive running by the likes of Rob Buckley and Jake Howlett in the centre and Ruairi at full back ensured the pressure remained on the Roscrea defence. This pressure was turned into points when Mark Delaney and Jimmy O’Brien scored tries in the latter stages of the 2nd half. Both were converted by Gavin Burke. Final score: Newbridge – 27, Roscrea – 12. Newbridge now play St Mary’s College in the quarter final on the 1st of March.
Team: 1. Mike Doyle 2. Tom O’Neill 3. Oisin Larkin 4. Paul Condon 5. Patrick Morrin 6. Oisin Kelly 7. Luke Menton 8. Ciaran Callan 9. Mark Delaney 10. Jimmy O’ Brien 11. James Healy 12. Rob Buckley 13. Jake Howlett 14.Gavin Burke 15. Ruairi Cleary Replacements (all used) : Connor Johnson, Nic Pearson Buffoni, Donal Delahunt, Brian Larkin, Tom Berney, Ian Caffrey and Will Mc Donald
On Saturday the Senior Seconds got their League campaign underway with a tricky away trip to St. Columba’s. In conditions that would have been almost unsuitable for kite surfing, the College played into a strong win and light rain. The game was very broken for much of the opening quarter with both sides squandering possession. The home side did however kick three points from a penalty at the breakdown to get their noses in front. As the half wore on the College started to dominate both possession and territory. But a mistake off a scrum in the College’s 22 on 27 minutes saw the Columba’s outhalf hack through the loose ball and beat everyone to jump on it for the games opening and only try. This was converted and despite some hard work in the latter stages of the half by the College, it would stay 10-nil to the home team at the break.
The second half saw the College lift their game but again an inability to hold onto a greasy wet ball saw them give up a lot of possession cheaply. While definitely the better team coming forward the College met a solid defence and had to work extremely hard to crack it. The game ebbed and flowed but neither side looked like seriously threatening the scoreboard. In the closing moments the College showed an excellent level of fitness as they continued to make yards with every carry and piled the pressure onto their opponent’s defensive line. Following some excellent recycling, Billy Delaney appeared to touch the ball down on the tryline. The referee explained he was unsighted and followed this explanation with the final whistle. A disappointing start to the League.
On Wednesday the Senior Seconds League continued as the College hosted King’s Hospital. Having gotten the campaign off to an unsuccessful start last Saturday, their first game in a number of weeks, the College hoped this would be a much improved performance. They didn’t have long to wait to see this improvement as a break from prop Colin Grant who offloaded to prop Ed Wynne, who in turn offloaded to David Doyle who ran in from 20 metres to touchdown for a try with only a minute on the clock. Paddy Cross missed the conversion. A number of penalties pushed KH into the College 22 and they made the most of this with some good continuity play from set play and grabbed an unconverted try on 10 minutes. A penalty attempt was missed by Cross on 14 minutes but the College kept the pressure on and a number of forward picks and drives saw the College inches from the KH line. Wynne pick at the base of a ruck and crashed over on 20 minutes. Cross converted. The remaining 15 minutes saw both teams threaten to score but both sets of defence held strong. Ross O’Reilly came closest for the College but unfortunately a knock-on put an end to that attack just metres from the line. In this time the College also lost the services of full back and captain Matthew Burke with what looked to be a broken collarbone following a great kick return. At the break it remained 12-5 to the College.
The second half saw Hos’ push to narrow the gap and fight their way deep into the College 22. With a number of forwards picking from the base of rucks they were just centimetres from the line but some excellent defence from the College not only kept them from scoring but also turned over the ball. Buoyed by this the College soon crossed for their third try shortly after. Great support from Seán Healy saw him collect the ball and run in on 45 minutes. Cross missed the conversion. As the College settled into the game KH found them harder and harder to breakdown. The continuity which had been lacking on Saturday had come to the College’s game and they controlled the ball well when in possession and defended well when not. KH did make them work hard and it was not until the 62nd minute before the College crossed again with Grant getting rewarded with a try following his immense effort during the game. Darren McHale could not add the extras. As the game drew to a close the College pushed further and Healy crossed for his second with just 3 minutes remaining. Cross, having an off day with boot, saw his conversion drop short. With the clock winding down, King’s Hos made one last push. The ball was stolen at the breakdown and the College tried to finish with one more score. A good cover tackle saw KH put the College into touch and the referee blew for full time and a 27-5 win for the home side. Notable mentions must got to David Doyle, Sam Riehn and Colin Grant.
The senior thirds got their league campaign off to a winning start on Saturday away to Belvedere College. The final scoreline of 5-3 reflects the tough and physical nature of the game played on a very heavy pitch. Despite having the bulk of possession in the first half Newbridge were 3 down at the break but eventually broke the stubborn Belvedere defence mid way through the second half with a fine finish from Harry Seymour. It followed a controlled period of possession from Newbridge and this was the pattern for the remainder of the match with Newbridge forwards gaining the upper hand. Best for Newbridge on the day were Niall Delahunt, Barry Finan and Niall Fleming in the backs, Matt O’Connor, Tom Dunne, Sean Treacy and Conor J Doyle in the pack.
The Junior C’s had their first outing in the league on Wednesday in Newbridge RFC against Clongowes. The match was played in dry but cold conditions but the players soon warmed up with the frantic pace that they played at. Newbridge got off to the better start. The pack led by the likes of Shane O’Brien and Mikey Quinn secured the ball in rucks and mauls and allowed the backs to run into space when enough Clongowes players were sucked in. Captain on the day, Eoin Heavy, controlled matters well and it wasn’t long before Cillian Murphy got his opportunity to score out wide. Mikey adding the bonus 2 points. After that it was Aiden Nolan that caused the damage on the scoreboard. Clongowes were not able for the physicality that Newbridge brought to the game and it wasn’t long before Aiden had two tries to his name. The half time score was 17 – 0 to the home side. The second half was closer, however, that was probably due to the fact that Newbridge were creating chances and not taking them. Sean Farrell played in the pack in the second half, swapping with Paddy Corbett and both did well as flankers when they are usually more at home in the centre. Aiden Nolan added a further 5 points late in the game and Mikey drop-kicked the conversion to leave the final score at 24 to nil.