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Skilful ‘Belvo Start New Year In Good Stead

Skilful ‘Belvo Start New Year In Good Stead

Old Belvedere director of rugby Phil Werahiko did not hide the fact that the 24-3 scoreline against Garryowen flattered his side, however he was quick to argue the merits of victory in such a tough, closely-fought contest.

Old Belvedere, who retain a three-point lead at the top of the All-Ireland League Division 1A, went into the half-time break 10-3 ahead, after centre Conal Keane slotted a penalty in the fifth minute and this was followed by Eddie Devitt’s 24th-minute try with Keane adding the conversion.

Having played the better rugby in the first half and going into the second period with a strong wind behind them, one would have expected ‘Belvo to continue in this vein and finish the game out quickly.

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Yet, Garryowen fought a good battle and forced ‘Belvo to defend well and make some try-saving tackles.

The Dubliners left it until the final quarter to put a gloss on the scoreline when number 8 Leo Auv’a snuck in for a try after flanker Jason Risdon knocked the ball down to him in a well-worked lineout move.

Winger David Mongan followed up with a nice individual try, showing his pace and leaving the Garryowen back-line for dead. Player-coach Andy Dunne slotted the conversion to bring the final score to 24-3.

“I don’t think Garryowen were ever going to let us play the rugby we wanted to play and I think the conditions didn’t help as well,” admitted ‘Belvo boss Phil Werahiko.

“The scoreline certainly did flatter us but I think about ten minutes into the second half we had kind of broken the back of Garryowen at that stage and we withstood the pressure.”

Asked what was the difference between the teams, Werahiko pointed to the wealth of skill in the ‘Belvo side as the decisive factor.

“I thought we just had that little more skill as opposed to just physicality. Having that little bit of extra skill instead of trying to just bury your way to the try-line did work for us,” he said.

“I also thought our fitness held well because even though we had made a number of mistakes, we still carried on and we kept working hard off the ball and tried to keep the pressure on Garryowen.”

‘Belvo came into the game without having played a match since late November, yet they still looked to have maintained a certain amount of the good form which was accumulated from the first half of the season.

“I think that break has affected every team that hasn’t had a game, but I suppose it depends on what you do during that break.

“Obviously the sharpness was always going to be an issue, but we just trained with intensity and tried to use that as our way of preparing for the likes of Garryowen.”

For their next AIL encounter, Werahiko’s charges will face in-form second-placed side Cork Constitution at Temple Hill. They lost to Constitution in their second match of the campaign.

“I think we’ve grown since that day we lost to Con, so there’s lot to look forward to,” added Werahiko.

“We’re looking for a top three finish, so if we can just keep building on our performances like today, we have every chance of getting there.”

Meanwhile, Garryowen coach Paul Cunningham admitted that the combination of tough conditions and numerous unforced errors were the downfall for his side in Saturday’s defeat.

“With the conditions out there with a big strong wind, of course there were bound to be mistakes and pressure as well can force people to make mistakes,” he said.

“I mean the physical banging that was going on out there was very intense, there was no quarter given by either side to be fair.”

Cunningham gave credit to ‘Belvo’s finishing abilities, but maintained that his side contested well throughout.

“They executed their tries very well, they’ve got some good players – (Simon) Keogh, (Andy) Dunne, Conal Keane in defence played super rugby, both wingers are good players, they’re good finishers.

“But we only saw that in bits and parts, we were well in contention in that game today, we didn’t play badly but they took their chances and that’s what it comes down to sometimes,” he admitted.

The defeat sees Garryowen fall two places to eighth in the Division 1A table. The Limerick side will certainly need to take their chances in their next game at home to Shannon, if they are to avoid a relegation battle.

Related Links –

Old Belvedere Maintain Table-Topping Form

All-Ireland League Tables