Naas firsts have now moved to top of the Ulster Bank (AIL) League, Division 2B, for the first time in many years, after defeating a valiant and previously unbeaten Navan team by a points margin of 27-12, writes Jim Casey.
Ulster Bank AIL League Division 2B
This game was played under lights at Forenaghts on Friday evening in perfect conditions and proved to be a very exciting encounter which was full of endeavour, with both teams set up to attack at every opportunity.
The first score came after seven minutes when Naas were penalised on their 22 for not rolling away. The kick was well converted by Alan Hickey to put Navan three points ahead.
From an excellent drop off the two Naas second rows, Gary Rowan and David Benn, combined well to drive the Navan lock back inside his 22 and with the Naas backs rampaging forward Navan conceded a penalty in front of their posts for crossing. Naas fullback David Aherne, who is having a great overall season campaign, converted to level the game in the tenth minute.
In the 15th minute, Navan were penalised just outside their 22 for handling in the ruck after a great Naas forward counter-ruck led by flanker, Andrew Kearney. David Aherne again converted to give Naas a narrow lead with a score of 6–3.
Navan realising they were in a tight match, upped their game and dominated play to the end of the first period. They scored another penalty, through Alan Hickey, to level the game in the 33rd-minute following an offside infringement by Naas and but for the tremendous tackling by Jason Harney and Paul Monaghan on the Naas 5m line forcing a knock on, Navan would have likely scored a deserved try.
Navan, with a slight hill advantage, were disappointed to have gone in level at the break, whereas Naas were delighted to have faced down the challenge.
From the restart Naas kicked deep inside the 22 where Navan’s defence hesitated and failed to gather effectively and in the ensuing confusion only just managed to clear into touch.
From the accurate lineout throw, by Jock Toland, Naas took control inside the Navan 22 and worked the ball smartly wide with quick hands and delivered to wing, Rob Campbell who gathered and touched down for the opening try of the game. David Ahern converted a difficult kick and the home crowd’s nerves were settled.
Throughout the third quarter, Navan were under pressure and played mostly inside their own half. They got some relief however when Naas backrow, Misioka Timoteo was sent to the bin in the 56th minute following what was deemed an illegal tackle on Navan centre, Simon Hogan.
The subsequent Navan penalty was converted to make the score 13-9. Now playing with a numerical advantage Navan sought to exploit the space but an ever alert Naas backline defended well with tremendous tackling by Eoghan Conron, Henry Bryce and Ryan Casey putting a stop to several Navan threatening forays.
In the 61st-minute Naas, despite their numerical deficit, turned over a Navan attack inside their half and counter attacked with powerful running, off-loading and superb ball control. From inside their 22 and under pressure, Navan only just managed to clear their lines with a kick to touch.
Naas secured the lineout and created a rolling maul driving Navan back across their line to allow Jock Toland to ground the ball for an excellent second try, which was converted to give Naas an eleven point lead.
Navan to their credit worked their socks off to try to get at least within a loosing bonus point of Naas. At times a surprisingly anxious Naas defence left the referee no choice but to penalise them for offside. This might have proved costly for Naas, however in the event only one such penalty was converted. This allowed Navan stay intouch and with twelve minutes remaining they were within 8 points of Naas with a score of 20-12.
However that proved to be Navan’s last score and Naas went on to score a further try in the 76th minute. This came almost against the run of play after Navan overthrew on a lineout five metres from the Naas line. Naas bravely ran the ball and after a series of charges by Henry Bryce and Brian Fitzgerald, on the left wing they were awarded a penalty inside their own half. An accurate long range kick by the influential David Ahern resuted in a lineout inside the Navan 22.
A superb take off the top by Steve Kinneavey, followed by a clean drop to the ever alert Naas Captain Sam Sutton set up an attacking platform which led to an excellent try by centre, Eoghan Conran who penetrated the Navan defence just right of the posts following a great break by Daragh O’Shea and offload by David Benn.
The conversion was effortlessly struck by David Ahern to extend the Naas lead to 27-12.
For the remaining few minutes Naas tried to secure a bonus point 4th try and Peter Osborne, replacing Daragh O’Shea, made a number of good breaks in the centre but Navan’s defence proved resilient. The game ended inside the Naas 22 where their dominant defence prevented Navan scoring a consolation try and Naas cleared their lines just prior to the final whistle.
Naas firsts next play Boyne away in round five of the Ulster Bank League on Saturday, November 17, kicking off at 2.30pm and have two further Ulster Bank League home games ahead of the Christmas break against Suttonians on 1st December and Thomand on December 8. Your continued support for the Naas senior team is very much appreciated.
1. Andrew Shirley (Shane Maguire 72’), 2. Jock Toland, 3. Jason Harney, 4. Garry Rowan , 5. David Benn (Steve Kinneavey 38’), 6. Niall Carson, 7. Andrew Kearney, 8. Paul Monaghan (Misioka Timoteo 38), 9. Sam Sutton ©, 10. Daragh O’Shea (Peter Osborne 76), 11. Brian Fitzgerald, 12. Eoghan Conran, 13. Henry Bryce 14. Rob Campbell (Ryan Casey 46), 15. David Aherne 16. Shane Maguire 17. Steve Kinneavey 18. Misioka Timoteo 19. Ryan Casey 20. Peter Osborne
1. Darren McDonnagh, 2. James McGahy, 3. Tipiloma Kivalu, 4. John Sheridan, 5. Tom Boyle, 6. Shane Dawson, 7. Conor Brady, 8. Leigh Jackson, 9. David Delahunt, 10. Alan Hickey, 11. Tommy Geraghty, 12. Simon Deavy, 13. Simon Hogan 14. Mo McCauley, 15. Brian Forristal 16. Eanna Brennan 17. Dave Clarke 18. Mick O Regan 19. Andrew Douglas 20. John Davis.