Shannon v Ballynahinch
A losing Bonus on the road!
This weekend saw our XVon the road to Ballymacarn Park to take on Ballynahinch in our first trip north this season. Still carrying injuries were Richard Mullane and Keith Kavanagh. It was a typically crisp autumn day with the sun shining but a deceiving breeze blew and made for a chilly afternoon.
Shannon kicked off with their backs to the sun and were quick off the mark forcing Ballynahinch to set up a ruck on their own 22. Kicking from the back of the ruck, Ballynahinch sent the ball back and we set up a ruck. After a chip ahead Nathan Randles scooped up the ball and made a great break towards the ‘Hinch 5 but was unlucky to knock the ball on in the motion of passing. They had possession in the scrum, but a massive Shannon push saw us gain a penalty. We opted for touch but an overthrow in the lineout saw Ballynahinch take possession and clear the line with a kick. A line out a piece, saw us back in possession when Ballynahinch were penalised for not rolling away in the ruck on the half way line. We opted for touch and set up a good maul trundling onwards, we were unfortunate to run into our own man off the back of this however. Ballynahinch picked and went off the back of the scrum and put up a high Garryowen. Nathan Randles again took the ball with ease; we kept the ball live and worked it up the pitch, kicking ahead. Ballynahinch recovered the kick and set up an attack down the centre of the pitch, Shane Mullally did really well in defence to force the knock on. We took a scrum on our 22 and kicked ahead. It was recovered and returned with Nathan Randles finding himself in possession and chipping onwards, Ballynahinch knocked this on and we were awarded the scrum.
We picked and went from the back with Lee Nicholas and Brian Downey in particular making solid carries towards the line. We kept the attack tight and in doing so created a massive overlap with the forwards waiting. Riley Winter did great to get hands on a high pass and put the head down to slide over the line after 12 minutes. The try went unconverted.
Ballynahinch kicked off and the ball went dead. We scrummed and kicked with the ball hitting a Ballynahinch player before going into touch. They stole our line out and attacked through the forwards, Shannon were found offside and a penalty saw Ballynahinch kick to our 22. Ballynahinch overthrew the resulting lineout but recovered and attacked across the pitch wide and knocked it on. Conor Fitzgerald left the pitch with an injury picked up in contact after 18 minutes replaced by Jack O’Donnell. We produced a solid scrum here and got clean ball to the backs. Ronan McKenna kicked us ahead and we recovered well but knocked on the ball in the next phase on their 22. Ballynahinch picked and went off the back of the scrum and kicked from the next ruck, this went out on the full and we took a line out back on their 22.
A solid lineout saw the ball go to the backs but unfortunately a forward pass saw Ballynahinch gain possession in a scrum just outside their 22. They kicked from the back of the scrum and Shane Mullally gathered and made a great break chipping on with John Foley in hot pursuit forcing another knock on. We took the scrum on their 5 and after a reset, we drove Ballynahinch back, with Lee picking and going and popping to Jack Stafford who sent it wide. John Foley was next to carry and made yards before he was taken down just short of the Hinch line. They committed numbers to the ruck and we were pinged for holding onto the ball getting Hinch out of jail and allowing them kick to their own 10. They overthrew the lineout and Brian Downey made a nuisance of himself stealing he ball and turning it back to Shannon. We attacked wide with Jack Stafford box kicking from the back of the ruck with Shane Mullally following up and retrieving. Quick ball from the ruck saw the ball spread wide and Shannon had all the possession with our forwards crashing in pods. It appeared we had the penalty but when a shot at goal was taken and missed Ballynahinch were awarded the kick off.
We recovered the kick off but were unlucky to pass forward for a second time gifting ‘Hinch a scrum on our 22. They got the ball to their backs from this but we came up as a unit and had their centres well covered, shutting down any attack. They were awarded a penalty for hands in the ruck and kicked for the posts and were successful at the 30 minute mark; leaving the score 5-3. We kicked of and ‘Hinch attacked wide using the space, the attack was coming from deep with each player running on the ball at pace. Again we came up as a unit and did really well at the breakdown with ‘Hinch being penalised for holding he ball in. Ronan McKenna kicked us to the ‘Hinch 10. We took the line out and spread it wide. Again our backs were great in attack with Lee and Brian Downey slotting in when needed. Unfortunately we knocked on in contact and were penalised in the next scrum. ‘Hinch took a quick one but Jack Stafford was ready and waiting to put in a solid hit. They attacked in open space and knocked on. We won a penalty in the next scrum with Ronan McKenna kicking us to their 22, the lineout was crooked and the ref called half time
From the kick off ‘Hinch came out and got down to business. They recovered their own kick and caught Shannon asleep with an organised attack, scoring in the corner. Bringing the score to 8-5 after one minute. We kicked deep from the kick off and followed up with pace. The defensive line held tough and we turned over the ball and kicked, forcing ‘Hinch to carry the ball over their own line. We took the scrum on their 5 but were penalised for holding a player back as he attempted to break off the scrum. They kicked to their 22 and mauled off the lineout, dropping the ball from the back. Robbie Deegan recovered the knock on and attacked the line making good ground, a kick ahead was returned and ‘Hinch kept the attack tight. They were guilty of not releasing and we gained a penalty which Ronan kicked to their 22. The lineout was lost and we were pinged for a high tackle. ‘Hinch kicked to our 10meter and spread the ball wide off the top of the line out. Riley Winter picked up a knock in the next tackle and did really well to put his body on the line, putting in another hit despite the injury, this forced a knock on but unfortunately saw his retirement from the game at 47 minutes.
We were solid in the scrum again and kicked ahead from the back of this only for the ball to be returned. A kick to touch and a ‘Hinch accidental offside saw Ronan McKenna kick us to just inside the Ballynahinch half. An overhrow saw ‘Hinch come through at pace and spread the ball wide. Robbie Deegan got in a good position and sniped through turning over the ball and allowing Ronan kick ahead for Ballynahinch to again return. As their players failed to retreat we were awarded a scrum back to the ‘Hinch 22. We were penalised in the following scrum and ‘Hinch kicked a penalty to our 10 using their backs as an option off the top again. Will Leonard did well to hold the attacking player up and we scrummed down on our 10. ‘Hinch were awarded a penalty here and opted for the posts leaving the score 11-5 after 57 minutes.
We kicked off and after a ‘Hinch hand knocked the ball into touch we took a line out on their 22. Ronan McKenna was great in attack, dominating the backline and directing the attack with Shane Mullally kicking us to the Ballynahinch 5. They ran the ball from their own line here and put up a kick that got very little ground. We unfortunately overthrew this lineout with ‘Hinch gathering and kicked the ball out to alleviate pressure. They used the backs off the lineout again and attacked wide with their centre hanging out and breaking down the wing; as the play moved back across the pitch the ball was dropped and we took a scrum on our 22. We won the scrum but ‘Hinch forced a turnover and spread the ball wide launching a fast paced attack that was enough to see them over the line with a converted try bringing the score to 18-5 at 66 minutes. We kicked off here and ‘Hinch fumbled, Shane Mullally gathered and chipped over the top turning their defence; in a fantastic individual try he caught the chip and flew in over the line. This was converted bringing us to 18-12 one minute later.
Moments later saw us with a scrum from which we gained a penalty with Ronan McKenna but just missed touch. We chased and applied great pressure forcing the kick and gaining a lineout on the ‘Hinch 22. There was an overthrow here and ‘Hinch picked up and launched an attack wide towards the Shannon 22 using their forwards to crash and gain the hard yards. We were fortunate when a ‘Hinch knock on saw us in possession in the scrum. Jack Stafford kicked and sent John Foley on in quick pursuit, we won a turn over and Ronan kicked us to the Ballynahinch 5. Again things didn’t go our way in the lineout and ‘Hinch took possession attacking through backs. They chipped and we recovered but gave away a penalty for coming in off our feet in the ruck. They kicked to our 10 and mauled from the lineout peeling off and attacking around the corner from the rucks. They were then guilty of the next penalty allowing Ronan McKenna to kick us to the half way line. Ballynahinch stole this and put the ball out signalling the end of the match with a full time score of 18-12.
We came away from the encounter with a losing bonus point in a match that was rife with handling errors from both sides. Again we were unfortunate to pick up injuries to players and wish them all the best and a speedy recovery! This weekend sees us back in Thomond Park to play Naas on the back pitch at a later kick off time of 4pm. Come along and offer your support to the lads, it is an important match and all encouragement is most welcome!