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All-Ireland League Division 2A: Round 8 Review

All-Ireland League Division 2A: Round 8 Review

It is seven wins and seven try-scoring bonus points for Highfield who have edged two points clear of Cashel at the top of All-Ireland League Division 2A. Blackrock College and UL Bohemians were the climbers this week, the Red Robins defeating Dolphin 28-14 to make it into the top four.

ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE DIVISION 2A: Saturday, December 8

ROUND 8 RESULTS –

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Blackrock College 24 Old Crescent 10, Stradbrook
Navan 28 Galwegians 7, Balreask Old
Nenagh Ormond 17 Highfield 36, New Ormond Park
Queen’s University 13 Cashel 19, Dub Lane
UL Bohemians 29 Dolphin 14, University of Limerick 4G pitch

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.

Classy back rower Miah Cronin led by example once again with two tries in Highfield’s 36-17 bonus point victory at Nenagh Ormond. Cronin took his haul for the league season to six, while second row Colm Gallagher and full-back Luke Kingston, the All-Ireland League Try of the Month winner for November, also touched down for the Corkmen.

The driving wind and rain was behind Highfield in the first half, by the end of which they were 24-0 in front. Despite some sterling defence from Nenagh, including a memorable tackle by Patrick Scully on Paul Stack, they could not hold out and leaked converted tries to Cronin (2) and a penalty try for collapsing a maul on the stroke of half-time.

The visitors were deadly off turnover ball, Cronin’s 17th-minute opener coming just three phases after a lineout steal and his second try a swift response to a Nenagh knock-on after they had attempted to run from deep. An Alex Ropeti penalty got the Tipperary outfit off the mark in the 43rd minute, but Highfield played some textbook rugby facing into the elements and Gallagher piled over from a 54th-minute lineout drive for their bonus point score.

Nenagh forced the issue at scrum time to earn a penalty try with little over ten minutes remaining, before Paddy O’Toole directed Highfield back into try-scoring range and Kingston scored their fifth of the afternoon. The rain was coming down in sheets at this stage and Nenagh lock Kevin O’Gorman closed out the scoring with a well-taken try in injury-time.

Another of the division’s leading back row exponents, Cashel’s James Ryan, crossed for two tries in their hard-earned 19-13 win away to Queen’s University. The students set a strong early pace in the persistent rain and a cross-field wind, their backs causing the second-placed side some problems and scrum half Matthew Keane cut a lovely line to nip over for the opening try.

However, Cashel soon flexed their muscles at scrum time, taking Queen’s through three five-metre set pieces before a knock-on handed possession back to Queen’s. The home scrum was turned over, through, and Ryan was able to ground the ball for the levelling five-pointer. A Richie McMaster three-pointer, awarded for a scrum penalty at the other end, moved Queen’s back in front just five minutes later.

The Cashel forwards seized the initiative from the restart, using their scrum power to drive Queen’s over their own line on the half hour mark and forwards coach Ryan duly completed his first half brace, with centre Jason Newton’s conversion giving them a 12-8 buffer at the break.

There were four minutes left in the half when a vital moment in the game saw Queen’s lock James Catterson sent off, a harsh decision given the conditions but as Keith Melbourne retrieved a kick and went to ground, Catterson had slid in and caught him in the back which was deemed dangerous play.

Handling errors in difficult conditions prevented Denis Leamy’s men from adding to their lead until their scrum turned up the heat and forced a penalty try in the 60th minute. Credit to 14-man Queen’s, they tightened up in defence and denied the visitors a bonus point score. Indeed, they bagged a bonus point of their own when Ulster’s flying winger Angus Kernohan scythed through after they tapped a free-kick 40 metres out.

Third-placed Navan, who travel to Cashel in the final round before Christmas, had to wait until the final minutes to secure their try-scoring bonus point in a 28-7 triumph over bottom side Galwegians. Flanker Conor Hand got over for the closing score after winger Sean McEntagart had intercepted a pass.

It was the Navan backs and strong-running number 8 Conor Ryan who were causing havoc for ‘Wegians early on, as centre Harry Hester and prop Shane Faulkner crossed for converted tries inside the opening 14 minutes. Ryan, who had gained 20 metres for his side in the build-up, supplied the scoring pass for Faulkner to touch down in the corner. The conversion was brilliantly curled over by Brian Haugh, with the aid of the post.

A relentless bout of pressure yielded a try for Galwegians scrum half Rory Gaffney just before the interval, rewarding a break from flanker Paul Hackett and some persistent work closer in by the entire pack. They were still very much in the contest at 14-7 down, but Navan quickly got on top again on the resumption, the rain coming down and their scrum reigning supreme to eke out a 46th-minute penalty try.

‘Wegians were held up twice soon after, the visitors going desperately close before Haugh was able to force a crucial knock-on from his opposite number Gaffney. Good running from McEntagart and a scrum won against the head lifted the pressure off the hosts whose patience in the bonus point hunt was eventually rewarded through industrious blindside Hand.

Meanwhile, UL Bohemians got back to winning ways with hooker Joe Bennett scoring two tries in their 29-14 dismissal of Dolphin on the University’s 4G pitch. Number 8 John Fitzgerald’s fifth-minute try had the visitors ahead, but Bohs snapped back to lead 22-7 at the turnaround, a big drive from prop David O’Connor getting them off the mark on the quarter hour.

Flanker James Ryan barged through three tackles to make the line for UL’s second try, and with Mike Mullally adding a close-range penalty and converting Bennett’s 38th-minute maul effort, the home side pushed 15 points clear.

Dolphin gave it their all under the floodlights, pressurising Bohs into two yellow cards for their props and closing the gap to 22-14 with a Dave Byrne score. Nonetheless, UL regrouped and produced the stronger finish with Bennett crossing for his second try, ably assisted by Ed Kelly, five minutes from the end.

Christy Neilan’s charges make the short trip to Limerick rivals Old Crescent in round 9, with Crescent aiming to banish memories of a disappointing 24-10 loss at Blackrock College. They lost their grip on a 10-3 half-time lead as second half tries from Michael O’Leary, Paddy Cowhey and Killian O’Leary saw ‘Rock take the spoils.

– Photos from Navan RFC and Harry Ryan (UL Bohemian RFC)

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