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All-Ireland League Division 2A: Round 3 Review

All-Ireland League Division 2A: Round 3 Review

Navan are the only unbeaten left in Division 2A, moving to the top of the table ahead of the first break in this season’s fixtures. It was a good weekend too for Dolphin and Nenagh Ormond who picked up their first wins, the latter edging their Friday Night Lights clash with UL Bohemians.



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Cashel 12 Highfield 17, Spafield
Dolphin 26 Old Crescent 21, Irish Independent Park
Navan 28 Blackrock College 8, Balreask Old
Queen’s University 45 Galwegians 10, Dub Lane
UL Bohemians 12 Nenagh Ormond 13, University of Limerick 4G pitch (played on Friday)

Clubs are invited to post the best tries from their All-Ireland League fixtures on the club’s Twitter, Facebook or Instagram pages using the hashtag #AILTry and tag @irishrugby. The scorer of #AILTry of the Month will receive a voucher for €;250 and each of the monthly winners will be entered into the #AILTry of the Season competition.

Nenagh Ormond pocketed their first points of the league campaign with a gritty 13-12 defeat of hosts UL Bohemians. They fell behind to James McCarthy’s opportunist 50-metre try on the half hour mark, which saw the Munster Academy back profit from the Nenagh defence’s failure to deal with a speculative kick.

Nenagh winger Patrick Scully prevented a certain Bohs try soon after, paying the price with a match-ending shoulder injury, but the visitors were boosted before half-time with an Alex Ropeti penalty for 7-3 after UL hooker Joe Bennett was yellow carded for a high tackle. A second Ropeti kick made it a one-point game, ten minutes into the second half.

The Tipperary men found another gear to notch a crucial try which came from scrum half Nicky Irwin’s initial break from a scrum inside his own half. He cleverly evaded the cover and kicked through with the chasing Peter Coman retrieving possession close to the try-line. He was held up by the covering defence, but quick hands from out-half Ropeti released centre Stephen Carey to score.

Ropeti’s successful conversion opened up a 13-7 lead, a vital gap given how dramatic UL made the finish. Number 8 Brian Walsh’s 77th-minute try gave Robbie Bourke the opportunity to kick Bohs back ahead but his conversion attempt, five metres in from the left touchline, went to the left and wide, and Nenagh held on in determined fashion.

South African centre Riaan van der Vyver celebrated his 100th All-Ireland League appearance for Navan in style with a try-scoring contribution in their 28-8 bonus point triumph over Blackrock College. Despite persistent rain at Balreask Old, Navan kept to their running game and were rewarded with four tries.

Blackrock had a strong start and finish to the match, with Paul Cullen kicking them ahead and they took the Meath men through some gruelling defensive phases late on, but Navan once again clinically put away their chances. Paddy Fox and Brian Haugh, who tallied up 13 points, crossed during the first half and prop Leigh Jackson and van der Vyver added further tries.

Highfield got back to winning ways by snatching a late 17-12 victory away from 14-man Cashel, who put in a Herculean effort after losing lock Idris Rqibi to an early red card for a high tackle. Three Jonty Rae penalties saw the Spafield outfit recover to lead 9-7 at half-time, cancelling out a converted try from Highfield’s Dave O’Sullivan.

A fourth successful place-kick from the New Zealand-born full-back, eight minutes from time, kept Cashel course, only for them to falter in the closing stages. Brian O’Hea bagged a try to put Highfield back in front and out-half Shane O’Riordan completed his seven-point haul by launching over a clinching penalty.

Dolphin ended their nine-match losing run in league action with a morale-boosting 26-21 win over Old Crescent. Head coach Robbie Doyle, who took over in the summer following the Cork club’s relegation, was delighted with the three-try performance in their second successive home outing at Irish Independent Park.

“I think I needed the oul defibrillator out there at the end of it, but we’re thrilled with the win,” Doyle told Irish Rugby TV. “It’s been a tough few weeks. When the lads came down a division, there was a few guys who moved on for various reasons. We’ve a young squad, an inexperienced squad.

“We’re trying to introduce new systems, new patterns of play and bed in new guys. So today was big for us. We’ve a very successful Under-20s system. Colin O’Shaughnessy is doing a great job there. My goal for the season is to bed those guys in, get them comfortable playing at this level. Confident of playing at this level and days like today will speed up that process. The role this year really is stabilise and rebuild.”

Dolphin winger Alan O’Sullivan showed his finishing skills with a brace of tries, full-back Cameron O’Shaughnessy also touched down, and scrum half and captain Daryl Foley added a very important 11 points with the boot. Foley’s 66th-minute penalty was just enough to get his side over the finish line, as they prevailed despite leaking a late penalty try and going down to 14 men.

Old Crescent’s ever-threatening winger Val McDermott took his season’s haul to four tries in two games, with his 23rd-minute opener set up by a brilliant midfield break, dummy and dinked kick from skilful front rower and former captain Cathal O’Reilly. It joins an already bountiful list of Try of the Month contenders across the five divisions.

Queen’s University are really hitting their stride with Derek Suffern in the hot seat. Their comprehensive 45-10 dismissal of Galwegians made it back-to-back bonus point wins for the students, with a stunning 14 tries and 88 points scored in their last two matches. They are now second in the standings, three points behind Navan.

Backs Michael Orr, Connor McKee, Mark Keane, Conor McAuley, Jonny Milliken and Conor Shiels dominated the try-scoring at the Dub with one each, while number 8 Gary Dillon also made it over the whitewash. Out-half Ritchie McMaster added five conversions, his 10-point tally being matched by ‘Wegians who grabbed an unconverted score in each half.

– Photos from Navan RFC & Declan Forrest Photography