Ashbourne U15s 24-29 Clondalkin U15s
Ashbourne RFC 02.09.18
This Clon squad won a nail-biting Cup game in Ashbourne last season and they repeated the trick in this closely-fought friendly to open up the new season on a winning note. With Emmanuel Muritala, Seán Monks and Nathan DeBotte all making their debut in Clon colours, and with 8 players injured or unavailable, it was a new-look team that took the field for a game that was divided into 3 periods of 20 minutes each, to allow both teams to try out new combinations.
Both Monks and DeBotte were straight into the action and saw plenty of the ball on the wings and Muritala put in an excellent shift in the second row and was very effective in the loose. He was only denied the try his performance deserved when the referee adjudged a double-movement.
The coaches had asked for ‘heads-up rugby’ this season and the tone was set early in the first period when scrumhalf Conor Branigan saw a gap and made a darting run up the middle before executing an audacious chip over the full back’s head. Clon piled forward and the ball was spread wide for Louis Lavin to power home for the first try of the season. New man DeBotte showed amazing confidence to coolly slot home the conversion.
Ashbourne did hit back with a great try of their own within 5 minutes but Clon were back on the front foot immediately through a powerful pack display, with Ben Fallon, Jake Browne and Josh Martyn-Keyes leading the charge, and Lavin grabbed his second in the corner to leave the away side 17-5 ahead at the first break.
A change in personnel for the second period saw Conor Jordan assume scrumhalf duties and he duly delivered an all-tackling, in-your-face performance that featured several great offloads in the tackle, with Liam Redmond and James Lindopp taking full advantage to go on some surging runs up the right wing. After that, the teams traded scores with Brandon Graham finishing off a great team move in the left corner, after good support play from Cathal Downey, Jamie Brady and Ewan Lester, before Ashbourne hit back again to leave the game on a knife-edge at the end of the 2nd period, with Clon leading 22-19.
A brilliant team defensive effort saw the boys in yellow keep the home team out for large parts of the final period, with centres Dylan Clarke and Danny Farrell in fine form. But it was Ashbourne who took the lead with 6 minutes remaining to leave Clondalkin an uphill task. Clon were by no means finished, however, and some great counter-rucking from Tarik Pitamor and Dean Farrell led to Graham going on an unstoppable run from the halfway line before dotting down under the posts. Redmond slotted the conversion with the last kick of the game to seal a hard-fought win and as they headed for home, captain Luke Swayne will have been happy with the intensity and performance levels of the whole squad as they look forward to another tough season of rugby.
Clondalkin: Jake Browne, Ben Fallon, Jamie Brady, Josh Martyn-Keyes, Louis Lavin, Tarik Pitamor, Emmanuel Muritala, Dean Farrell, Ewan Lester, Luke Swayne, Conor Branigan, Conor Jordan, Cathal Downey, Dylan Clarke, Danny Farrell, Brandon Graham, Nathan DeBotte, Seán Monks, Liam Redmond, James Lindopp.