Instonians booked their place in the Energia All-Ireland League for next season with a hard-fought 25-21 final win over Bective Rangers at Dundalk RFC.
Full highlights of the game are available below:
ENERGIA ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE ROUND ROBIN QUALIFYING FINAL:
BECTIVE RANGERS 21 INSTONIANS 25, Dundalk RFC
Scorers: Bective Rangers: Tries: Bobby Holland, Matthew Keane, Denis Coulson; Cons: Matthew Gilsenan 3
Instonians: Tries: Matthew Kilpatrick, Andrew Keane 2, Zak Davidson, Matthew Keane
HT: Bective Rangers 7 Instonians 15
Whoever loses out in the Division 2C relegation shootout will be replaced by Instonians who won a thrilling Round Robin Qualifying final against Bernard Jackman’s Bective Rangers at Dundalk RFC.
Replacement Andrew Keane’s well-worked try – his second of the game – in the left corner gave Inst enough of a cushion in an eventual 25-21 win.
Bective got off to a bright start, impressing with ball in hand and centre Bobby Holland cut in from the left wing for an early try which Matthew Gilsenan converted.
Instonians are coached by Paul Pritchard with former Ulster full-back Louis Ludik also part of the coaching ticket. Some nice interplay between their backs, led by Ruairi O’Farrell, ended with winger Matthew Kilpatrick crossing in the right corner.
Working off the stronger set piece throughout, Inst took the lead when a monster maul saw them go close before Bevan Prinsloo and Mark Keane got their hands free in tackles to get the ball wide for Andrew Keane to score.
A third unconverted try followed from Zak Davidson, giving Inst a 15-7 half-time advantage despite Ryan Hanson’s sin-binning for hands in the ruck. Mark Keane was tackled just short from his searing midfield break, but Davidson pounced on the loose ball to score.
Gilsenan missed a first half penalty but converted replacement Matthew Keane’s try early in the second period, as the Dubliners’ forwards went the direct route from a quick tap and Keane crashed in beside the posts to make it a one-point game.
Inst put big pressure on at scrum time, earning a series of penalties but turning down kicks at goals. Bective were holding out, yet a harsh call against Shane O’Meara saw the winger sin-binned for a knock-on in a tackle.
Inst responded by putting some vital daylight between the teams, their influential scrum half Matthew Keane darting over from a close-in scrum and a few minutes later, neat passing from O’Farrell, Pritchard and Mark Keane released Andrew Keane for his second of the afternoon.
Now trailing by 11 points, Bective upped the tempo and Inst replacement Matthew Nelson saw yellow for not being back 10 metres at a penalty. Denis Coulson was unstoppable from eight metres out, Gilsenan’s conversion putting Rangers right back in contention.
They engineered one final opportunity from a penalty near Instonians’ 10-metre line, close to the right touchline. The left-footed Danie Poolman was called up to go for touch, but the former Connacht winger unfortunately miscued his kick and the ball went dead.
BECTIVE RANGERS: Ben Garrett; Shane O’Meara, Bobby Holland, Elliot Stone, Michael O’Hare; Matthew Gilsenan, Dylan Carpenter; Rodrigo Gens, Fox Fallon, Colin Jackson, Gerard Warde, Oisin Lennon (capt), Jamie Lawless, Mark Bennett, Donagh Lawlor.
Replacements: Daniel Byrne, Tom Dever, David Kealy, Eoin Vaughan, Matthew Keane, James O’Kane, Danie Poolman, Denis Coulson.
INSTONIANS: Mark Keane; Zak Davidson, Bevan Prinsloo, David Scott, Matthew Kilpatrick; Ruairi O’Farrell, Matthew Keane; Conor Gallagher, Neil Saultiers, Alan Whitten (capt), Eoghan Murphy, Josh Hartley, Mark Mairs, Paul Pritchard, Alistair Burke.
Replacements: Frazer Laughlin, Onisi Burekama, Terence Coombs, Ryan Hanson, Richard McCarthy, Matthew Nelson, Andrew Keane, Ross Jenkins.