Navan RFC v Wanderers RFC
17th February 2018 Navan RFC, Balreask Old, Navan
With the well-publicised FREE ADMISSION to Navan RFC v Wanderers RFC attracting the largest crowd of the season to Balreask Old, there were high hopes among the local supporters that the home team could complete the season double over their illustrious visitors. With the teams lying 4th and 5th respectively in the table before kick off, separated by 5 points, a win would have given Navan one foot in the play-offs and left the visitors a near impossible gap to close over the concluding games of the season. Unfortunately it was not to be. Following a minutes silence before kick off, in memory of NRFC President Gerald Williamson’s brother John, who passed away earlier in week, Navan took an early 3 point lead from a penalty by Willie Staunton, when an attacking position close to the line could have yielded more for their efforts. The visitors then enjoyed a spell of possession and Navan struggled to escape from deep in their own 22 at the Ardboyne end. A series of attacking mauls by Wanderers were deemed to have been collapsed illegally by Navan and a yellow card resulted for the ever hard working Conor Ryan, reducing the home team to 14. The very next play yielded a try which was converted by the visitors who led 7-3 mid way through the half. Some fine attacking play by Navan again should have resulted in a score, but resilient defence by the visitors created a turnover and they attacked from their own try line. A superb cover tackle by Willie Staunton and another moments later on the opposite wing by Sean McEntaggert, saved an almost certain try. However several plays later Navan received what appeared to be a harsh second yellow card when a quick penalty was taken and Ronan Scott was deemed to have not retreated 10m. Now reduced to 13, they could not withstand the 15 visitors who added a second, unconverted try to go into the break 12-3 ahead.
Captain Bryan McKeever (left of picture) gets ready to scrum down against Wanderers at Balreask Old, in the All Ireland League 2B last Saturday.
Starting the second half brightly, Wanderers again turned the ball over and counter attacked to score and stretch their lead to 19-3. This however galvanised the home team who responded with a twenty minute spell of dominance that yielded first a try for Conor Ryan (19-10), then a penalty, (19-13) and finally, following a Wanderers sin binning, Navan exploited the numerical advantage with a second try by Shane Walshe in the corner. With the touchline conversion attempt slipping agonisingly wide, Navan trailed by a single point 19-18, with 10 minutes to go. The visitors through caution to the wind, and restored to 15, they regained a foothold in the game that yielded a fourth try. Critically, this would give them a 4 try bonus point in the league and the gap of 8 points, 26-18, would leave Navan with nothing to show for their efforts. The home side worked hard to gain possession in the opposition half and finally won a penalty, which was successfully taken by the in form Willie Staunton leaving the final score Navan 21-26 Wanderers. The losing bonus point (7 point gap or less) meant that Navan remained 1 point clear of Wanderers in AIL 2B and critically in the final play-off berth. Next up for Captain Bryan McKeever’s team will be a trip to Dungannon and the 24th March see the next home match against Barn Hall.
Line out contest at Navan RFC Saturday 17th
It was a day of mixed emotions at Navan RFC on Saturday with the disappointing result in the AIL match balanced somewhat by other events on and off the pitch. At the pre match lunch, a surprised Dr Michael Greally was awarded with Honorary Life Membership of Navan RFC in recognition of almost 40 years of dedicated service to the Club. The award was made by Senior Vice President David Cullivan and Club Chairman Leo Finlay, who reminded those present that Michael had an outstanding career with Connaught before settling in Navan where he played and coached the Senior XV as well as minis and youths. He has also been Honorary Medical Officer for the Club for many years and the Club Executive wished to recognise his contribution with this special award.
Pictured( l to r), David Cullivan, Senior Vice President, NRFC, Leo Finlay, Chairman NRFC and Dr Michael Greally receiving Honorary Life Membership of Navan RFC 17th February 2018.
On the pitch, following the senior game, the Navan U14 Girls squad, coached John Molloy, took on the unbeaten table toppers, Portlaoise in the Leinster Premier League. Following a titanic struggle, the home side held out for a 14-7 victory that moves them to second in the table and all but guarantees them a place in the play offs.
Navan U14 Girls squad following their 14-7 Premier League win over table toppers Portlaoise at Balreask Old on Saturday 17th February.
On the road, there were also wins for the u18s away to Athy; the u17s away to Tullow and the u15s away to Kilkenny in the Leinster Boys Cup.