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Heavyweight Clash Finishes All-Square At Coonagh

Heavyweight Clash Finishes All-Square At Coonagh

Both coaches, Stephen Keogh and Phil Werahiko, will be wondering just how this thrilling Division 1A clash at Coonagh ended all-square.

Shannon had a great start when 8-0 clear after just 13 minutes. By half-time Old Belvedere had stormed into an 18-8 advantage but with a quarter of the game still remaining it was all-square and in a hectic finish neither side could score again.

Shannon shot out of the traps and industrious winger Richie Mullane was put through for a fifth minute unconverted try.

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The hosts launched a spritely attack from a turnover outside the 'Belvo 22, and Mossie Lawlor provided the assist for Mullane to scamper over in the corner.

Fit-again out-half Tadhg Bennett, a welcome addition to the hosts' starting line-up, added a 13th minute penalty to stretch the early lead.

Old Belvedere's assistant coach Andy Dunne missed a chance to claw back those three points but the visitors began to make an impact, their Leinster-capped number 8 Leo Auva'a carrying well.

Both sides tried to run the game and create space out wide in a lively opening quarter. 'Belvo remained scoreless until Shannon lost a lineout in their 22 and Dunne stepped up to land a drop goal.

With Keogh's time on the pitch ended by injury, the Shannon player-coach could only watch on as Belvedere winger Peter Woods capitalised on some poor defending to notch a well-taken 31st minute try.

Suddenly it was the Dubliners dictating the pace of the game and after the home scrum was penalised, Dunne fired over a 25-metre penalty.

The Limerick men tried to hit back late in the half but when a ball broke loose, Woods gobbled it up in his 22 and covered the remaining metres for a real sucker punch score.

Whatever was said in the Shannon dressing room at the break worked a dream. Nine minutes in and Bennett put over a penalty to leave seven points between the sides.

Right on the hour mark Shannon got back on terms. They were awarded a penalty for a deliberate knock on and took a quick tap which culminated in the lively Luke O'Dea getting in at the corner and Bennett superbly converted to tie it up.

Old Belvedere then opened a hole in the Shannon defence but with the try-line in sight they knocked on, Dunne also having a drop goal effort charged down.

In an action-packed climax, 'Belvo speedster Daniel O'Riordan was halted by O'Dea and although the Dublin 4 outfit were camped in the Shannon 22 for much of the closing stages, the hosts deservedly hung on for a share of the spoils.

The draw at least stopped Old Belvedere's run of defeats since the start of the league season, but the defending champions will be frustrated by their failure to put Shannon away in the second half.

Speaking after the game, 'Belvo director of rugby Phil Werahiko said: “We're relieved more than anything. You could say it's a game we left behind, and we've been doing a lot of that, but this was an improvement in that we managed to get two points from it.

“We've certainly been creating enough opportunities to win games but our discipline today was the difference, probably the best it's been all year.

“We also played better as a team, but I think we can improve on that again. Hopefully that will mark the start of a turnaround in our season.”

Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU)