A blitz of a start by Suttonians RFC went almost unnoticed By NUIM Barnhall as the home side went about delivering a master class in forwards play at Parsonstown last Saturday in the AIL Division 3 clash.
The fast start was halted somewhat by a gift of a penalty when a faster release of the ball could have yielded a try to the Suttonians forwards in the opening three minutes of this AIL catch up game.
After only three minutes Suttonians major points scored Adam Griggs slotted home a short range effort to take a three point lead from the outset.
The visitors may have regretted the early score as it appeared to wake up a sleeping giant as the NUIM Barnhall team kicked off a spell of excellent rugby that totally outplayed the Suttonians side.
Conor Feeney returned to the no.7 shirt and he was the touch paper the exploded the Barnhall effort and his speed of play, react time and hunger for the ball quickly infected Ross McKeon Peter Courtney and Barry Dunne and they immediately pushed the pace of this game to a frantic speed.
Within minutes of the restart this quarter had taken control of the ball and the fast play and excellent support left the visitors chasing after shadows.
After eight minutes a particular fast move saw the ball move through seven Barnhall players before Adam Hughes made the final burst over the line close to the corner flag. Rob Holt converted the difficult kick which added to the resolve of the Home side to blow away five yards of defeats to Suttonians with a rousing win.
Apart from a second penalty carelessly conceded which Griggs converted to make the score 7 points to 6 NUIM Barnhall dominated the scrums, Lineout’s and loos play for the rest of the first half.
Whenever Suttonians did attempt to go forward, Courtney or Ray Dufficy was on hand to knock the fight out of the big Suttonians forwards.
Dufficy ion particular put in three big tackles in quick succession where his opponent was flat on the ground and the big prop was back on his feet looking for another victim.
A second penalty for Holt and at ten points to 6 was a scant return for the dominance the Home side had on the game at this stage. Just before half time a yellow card was flashed to Suttonians yet NUIM Barnhall were kept at bay by the reduced Suttonians squad by last gasp do or die efforts in defence.
From the restart Barnhall looked to capitalise on the extra man and after only one minute Holt had increased the lead to 13 -6 after a simple short range penalty.
A great break by David Stewart was carried on by the forwards with Eoin Hogan flashing the ball between forwards and backs. A scrum short of the line was picked up by Barry Dunne and his progress was stopped short of the line. The follow up move saw Gareth Muzzy Murray crossing over close to the corner flag. Holt narrowly missed the conversion but the momentum was clearly in NUIM Barnhall favour and it was only a matter of time before this lead would be extended.
Despite being at full strength the visitors had no answer to the Barnhall flying machine which was now bolstered by the efforts of Conor MacDermot who, along with McKeon were lording it in the lineouts despite the size and experience of the two Suttonians second row forwards. F
ourteen minutes into the second half and another rampant forward move of fast loose play created perfect possession for holt and Hogan and the ball was moved effortlessly across the line.
In a particularly unselfish play by Alan McAnadrew the full back popped the ball to Hughes who touched down for an excellent third try of the afternoon for the Home side.
A superb kick by Holt stretched the lead to 25 points to 6. Greedy expectation on the side line expected a fourth and possibly fifth try and at a minimum a bonus point. Suttonians were in no mood for a cricket score defeat and some good driving play by Damien Ivory and Aidan Kearney which was well supported by Adrian Hoary and Richard Delaney halted the progress Of the NUIM Barnhall side.
Despite the impressive effort by Suttonians they did not look like making a dent in the Barnhall fortress.
A head less ill disciplined action by Stewart in kicking a ball away from a Suttonians penalty irritated the referee and gave a ten meter advantage to the visitors.
A robust forward charge was followed by solid play and despite some excellent defending the loose maul was managed well by Suttonians and Hoary crossed over close to the corner flag.
Griggs added the conversion and Suttonians came alive again. From nowhere Suttonians were handed a glimmer of hope and again despite the efforts of Feeney, Courtney, McKeon and McDermot
Good and strong tackling by Hogan, Eamon Daly and Hughes were not sufficient to halt Suttonians and they were held up over the line twice before Hoary got a second try which again Griggs converted.
At 25 20 the most unlike and unexpected turnaround had happened and only the clock had extended into injury time the win in this game would have been in doubt.
NUIM Barnhall did push the game to the Suttonians line and a late scrum about five meters out came to Barry Dunne who hoofed the ball into touch to end this game.
Despite a low finish much could be said of the speed of play, the control in open play and the success of the set pieces.
The Parsons town faithful had faith restored in this team and a fin, the first in six years against Suttonians was savoured.