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All-Ireland League Division 2A: Round 5 Review

All-Ireland League Division 2A: Round 5 Review

Unbeaten leaders Navan and their chief chasers, Highfield and Cashel, all enjoyed bonus point wins in the latest round of All-Ireland League Division 2A action, while Dolphin and Queen’s University also returned to winning ways.



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Dolphin 22 Galwegians 17, Irish Independent Park
Navan 32 UL Bohemians 7, Balreask Old
Old Crescent 14 Highfield 61, Rosbrien
Queen’s University 18 Blackrock College 12, Dub Lane
Cashel 30 Nenagh Ormond 7, Spafield (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.

The basement battle between Dolphin and Galwegians saw both teams raise their game considerably, but it was the hosts who prevailed 22-17 at Irish Independent Park to climb out of the bottom two. Dalton O’Shaughnessy, Will Hanly and Dan Horgan touched down for Dolphin whose captain Daryl Foley kicked an important seven points.

Foley and his team-mates forced a five-metre scrum after hacking through spilled possession from Galwegians, and second row O’Shaughnessy managed to burst over for an unconverted eighth-minute try. ‘Wegians remained scoreless with fit-again out-half Dave Clarke missing a long range penalty in the 26th minute, and his half-back partner Rory Gaffney also knocked on with the try-line in sight.

‘Wegians’ persistence finally paid off in the 36th minute when hooker John Moloney gathered a superb skip pass to dive over in the left corner. Clarke’s touchline conversion fell just inches short of the target, and Dolphin answered back on the stroke of half-time. Two penalties saw them press late on and centre Hanly sniped over near the posts for a 12-5 scoreline.

Turning into a wind which was lessening in strength, the Galway men were level within five minutes of the restart. Their patient build-up play, which included some impressive handling and ball retention, resulting in Connacht Eagles prop Ryan Lomas crashing over for Clarke to landing the equalising conversion. Frustratingly for ‘Wegians, they knocked on from the restart and an immediate scrum penalty saw Foley boot Dolphin back in front – 15-12.

Nonetheless, Brian McClearn’s men bounced back to take a two-point lead approaching the hour mark. Second row Michael O’Donnell charged through from an interception, making 30 metres before sending supporting flanker Ronan Moore over for the visitors’ third try. Clarke’s conversion attempt came back off the post, while knocks to Brian Murphy and Gaffney sidelined two key backs.

The Blues could have done with the pair down the final stretch. Composure was required but unfortunately the otherwise-impressive full-back Ewan Strang fumbled a high ball into touch, five metres out from the ‘Wegians line. Dolphin seized their chance, showing the sort of ball retention that the visitors craved as Horgan struck for the match-winning try, just to the left of the posts.

Foley’s successful conversion made it a five-point game, and there was still time for both sides to pursue a fourth try. Galwegians had to be content with just a losing bonus point – their first point of any kind during a difficult first five rounds. A late bout of forward pressure close to the Dolphin line was spoiled by a penalty against O’Donnell for holding on, while the dogged and wily Dolphin pack also turned over a last-minute maul effort from the westerners.

UL Bohemians were well beaten by Navan in a 32-7 bonus point success for the table toppers at Balreask Old. Very difficult handling conditions contributed to an evenly-matched first half which ended 3-0 in the hosts’ favour thanks to Colm O’Reilly’s classy 40-metre penalty with the very last kick.

The Meath men upped the ante with an early second half try from winger James McInerney, who showed his strength and speed to score after some astute approach work by fellow backs Harry Hester and Paddy Fox. O’Reilly converted with aplomb from out wide, and with UL down to 14 men for a no-arms tackle, a second successful penalty from the out-half made it 13-0.

Fox and Hester were the providers again when the latter did well to hold onto a pass and ship it out to McInerney, in plenty of space, and he sped down the touchline to complete his brace. Player-coach Ray Moloney entered the fray, coming on for McInerney, and the try-scoring kept coming at one end as Navan centre Evan Dixon broke a tackle and jinked and swerved his way over for a terrific solo score, converted by O’Reilly.

Bohs finally landed a blow with a James McCarthy try on the hour mark, yet they were unable to keep up the momentum. Both sides suffered yellow cards with a heavy rain shower coming down during the closing stages. A spell of scrum pressure, five metres out, led to a penalty try and a hard-earned bonus point for Moloney’s charges.

Meanwhile, Highfield were in rampant form at Rosbrien when they scored nine tries to overwhelm Munster rivals Old Crescent 61-14. It was their fourth try-scoring bonus point of the season already with winger Paul Stack and hooker Dan Healy bagging braces. Stack has now scored six tries in five rounds.

Injury-hit Crescent were already in deep trouble by half-time, trailing 33-0 with Healy grabbing an early double and Stack (2) and Luke Kingston also dotting down. Ciaran Cusack and Cathal Monaghan replied with seven-pointers for the home side, but Tim Ryan’s men were in merciless mood.

The visitors, who were the only club to win away from home in round five, played right to the final minute, adding further tries through Dave O’Sullivan, Eddie Earle, Cathal Gallagher and Michael Dillane with Shane O’Riordan finishing with seven conversions.

The expected close encounter did not materialise at Spafield last Friday night as Cashel continued their strong start to the season with an excellent 30-7 derby win over Nenagh Ormond. Denis Leamy’s men have now scored 11 tries and 73 points in the last two rounds.

After beating UL Bohs and Queen’s University in recent weeks, Nenagh were brought back down to earth by their Tipperary rivals. Experienced back rower James Ryan crossed for the opening try after Cashel had diligently worked turnover ball into a scoring opportunity.

Despite some notable breaks from Nenagh’s Nicky Irwin, John Coffey and Kevin O’Gorman, Cashel pushed into a 15-0 lead for half-time. Their influential Kiwi full-back Jonty Rae landed a 24th minute penalty and swung over a touchline conversion to top off winger Richard Kingston’s try, which followed a lineout maul and some sustained pressure from the home pack.

With the penalties stacking up against Nenagh, they had second row O’Gorman sin-binned before the break, while six minutes after the restart, Rae split the posts with a penalty to make it 18-0. A smartly-taken 54th-minute try from scrum half Irwin, following a lineout drive, saw Nenagh rally, with Alex Ropeti firing over a terrific conversion from the touchline.

A brace of closing tries from lively replacement Tommy Anglim earned Cashel’s fourth try-scoring bonus point of the campaign. They visit Blackrock College this coming Saturday, with ‘Rock aiming to bounce back from an 18-12 loss to Queen’s in Belfast.

The students did it the hard way with yellow cards for flanker Curtis Pollock and hooker Alexander Clarke giving Blackrock a two-man advantage in the second half. However, Queen’s stood firm thanks to out-half Richie McMaster’s clinching penalty, adding to tries from number 8 Gary Dillon and the fit-again Andrew McGrath which had the hosts leading 15-0 at one stage.

– Photos from M. Lee Media & Navan RFC