NO JOY FOR ’STONES
Highfield inflict fourth defeat in a row on Greystones
GREYSTONES RFC 22 HIGHFIELD RFC 9
GREYSTONES travails continued last Saturday as they struggle to adjust to life in Division 2A of the Ulster Bank League suffering their fourth defeat in a row this time at home to Highfield losing out 22–9.
Their Achilles heal in previous rounds has been the tendency to leak early soft tries to then mount a fightback in vain and it felt a little like groundhog day when after just five minutes Highfield broke through the centre of the home defence for the opening try under the posts.
That the score was kept to just five points was down to the lackadaisical kicking approach of the Highfield outhalf and the quick reaction of Jack Keating who broke from the line to charge down the conversion attempt.
Greystones had started the game well enough with some strong running by Padraig Geoghegan making deep inroads into the Highfield half and it looked like the home side were in for a good afternoon.
Andrew Kealy had the first opportunity to put points on the board with a makeable penalty but pushed the ball right of the posts and when the opening Highfield score came it was almost against the run of play.
Greystones were penalised whilst in possession on their own ten metre line and from the resultant lineout deep in the ‘Stones 22 the Highfield pack picked and drove at the home defence to great effect using their superior bulk to make repeated gains until flanker Ian McCarthy crossed under the posts.
After this early setback Greystones dug in and continued to bring the game to Highfield and were rewarded with two penalty conversions from Kealy to build a slender 6–5 lead after 15 minutes of play.
The second Highfield try was to follow shortly afterwards and the result of a sustained period of pressure that saw the Greystones defence stretched from touchline to touchline leaving a huge gap for Highfield to exploit creating an easy run in for captain Miah Cronin to score.
On a day when little went right off the tee for the visitors the conversion was missed.
At 10–6 down Greystones were still in the game and needed to keep within a single score but the sucker punch came on the stroke of half time with the third Highfield try.
The Greystones defence were largely marked absent or guilty of falling off a couple of half tackles with Highfield in possession and probing for gaps that allowed the big second row Patrick Ryan to canter in touching down behind the posts.
The inability of the Highfield outhalf to convert three kickable conversions from in front of the posts kept Greystones within nine points at half time.
The second half continued with Greystones taking the play to Highfield but without making the telling breakthrough.
Last years top scorer Jack Keating is attracting the attention of opposition defences intent on denying him any space or opportunity to attack.
Andrew Kealy brought the home side within losing bonus point territory with his third penalty on 50 minutes but Highfield put the match out of reach with their fourth try five minutes from time.
Maintaining an advantage in the set piece scrums all afternoon with their bigger and more physical pack Highfield had Greystones in their sites when awarded an attacking scrum 10 meters out.
When the scrum buckled Greystones were penalised and the referee brandished a yellow card to prop Bobby Clancy.
With a man down it was inevitable that Highfield would continue to turn the screw and after a couple more resets and penalties they broke the Greystones line with the referee about to award a penalty try anyway.
Greystones finished the game camped on the Highfield line and in a replay of the end game at Nenagh a week ago they failed to break through for the score that would have earned a losing bonus point with the game finishing when prop Conor Pearse knocked on with the line in his sights.
The league now goes into a two week break that won’t have come soon enough for the walking wounded in the Greystones treatment room. While some the injuries suffered already are season ending absences coach Kevin Lewis will be hoping for the return of some of his charges to bolster the squad ahead of the trip to Denis Leamy’s Cashel on October 28th
Greystones: Bobby Clancy, Ben Tou, Conor Pearse, John Cambell, Oisin Lennon, Cormac O’Donoghue, Eoin Marmion, Mick Doyle, Andy Roberts, Killian Marmion, Michael Kirk, Andrew Kealy, Padraig Geoghegan, Jack Keating, Matt O’Brien.
Replacements: Robin O’Sullivan, Michael Douglas, Shane Mulvany, Paul McCullagh, Nick Quirk
Scorers: Andrew Kealy (3 penalties)