Navan V Portlaoise
U14 Girls premier league 17/2/08
Navan 14 – Portlaoise 7
Leadership, courage, passion and teamwork are some of the traits of a great rugby game. We had all of this and more from both teams in Saturday’s game. Cara Martin, captain, led her team to a great victory ably assisted by her half-back partner Leah Morris.
Portlaoise kicked off. Navan put them on the back foot straight away with ten minutes of consistent pressure. Most of the team touched the ball through this phase which culminated in a try under the posts for Ellen Birmingham. She kicked the conversion also as cool as can be.
Portlaoise didn’t win all their matches so far by lying down and weren’t long responding with a converted try of their own. Navan kept putting the pressure on. This was a game that had to be won up close and personal. This is where girls like Anna Hilliard and Ally Cullivan come into their own. Unfortunately, during this period of play we lost one of our great leaders. Lauren Fitzpatrick took a knock during one of her trademark bursts, dragging half the opposition up the field with her. Lilly Dwyer, usually a winger, came in to replace her, in the front row. She took on the challenge and had to learn all about lineout throwing on the run. Jade Gaffney also out of position did some fine work around the rucks during this phase.
Navan were hungry for the game at this stage. They knew they could win and kept applying pressure until they got a penalty ten meters out, straight in front of the posts. Rocket ball to Ciara Rennie at that distance and it was always going to be a try. Ellen made the conversion look all too easy.
Portlaoise were big and strong and tackled ferociously. It was only a matter of time before we had another substitution with Ava Purcell coming on for Ava Galvin. Roisin Cullen came into the forwards in the second half to give Jade a break. She might be one of the newer players, but she was determined to make a name for herself.
Portlaoise laid siege to the Navan try-line for much of the second half. This is where Navan played their best rugby. Rosie Searle at full back directed the backs in front of her and on several occasions cleared our lines with some fine carries. Portlaoise tried everything. They attacked the forwards but met a stone wall. Their centre tried to run around Sarah Leonard and Steffi Finnegan but was directed out to Abby Moyles. Another cul de sac! Sarah and Steffi brought down girls twice their size. Safe as houses.
The pressure had to tell and eventually we had another casualty. Ellen had to leave the field. Ava Galvin returned and celebrated by ripping the ball from a maul one meter from the line and bringing it to the relative safety of the 22.
This is where the fitness work after Christmas paid off. No matter how hard the Portlaoise girls attacked they were knocked back, time after time. Eventually, to the coach’s relief and the girls delight, the ref blew the final whistle.
Usually, we have a woman of the match at this stage. We had sixteen girls that earned woman of the match on Saturday. They all earned and deserved it. They were supported by Maebh Mills and Niamh McSherry on the subs bench. We didn’t have a chance to play them, but I am sure they would have played their part if they came on. Roisin Watters support was greatly appreciated.
It was an honour to play on pitch one in front of so many people. I think their performance has impressed a lot of the club members. They played well and deserved their win.