Gritty dis­play takes ‘Brig­gan to the sum­mit

Fingal Independent - - SPORT -

BAL­BRIG­GAN are back on top of Di­vi­sion 2B but had to work hard for this 20-point vic­tory over Birr on Sun­day af­ter­noon.

Seven of the Birr tally came off the last play of the game, which gave the score­board a more re­spectable look from their point of view, but over­all they were less ef­fi­cient at tak­ing their chances and couldn’t match Bal­brig­gan’s strong de­fence.

Birr kicked off straight into the arms of skip­per Cald­well who re­turned the ball with in­ter­est with a typ­i­cal barg­ing run. Bal­brig­gan worked their way through var­i­ous moves and won a li­ne­out near the Birr line. Cald­well took the ball and af­ter a cou­ple of for­ward moves it came to the backs and af­ter a nice wrap-around move Mike Han­ley opened with a try which he duly con­verted.

Af­ter the kick-off Bal­brig­gan at­tacked in a sim­i­lar man­ner and an­other li­ne­out was won close to the line. Whit­ney jumped high to win the ball and this time it was flashed across the line, with O’brien send­ing a pass out to full back Downes who ap­peared as if he had been given a hot potato. Nev­er­the­less, he man­aged to hang on and ground the ball for a sec­ond try, with Han­ley again con­vert­ing for a 14–0 lead af­ter 15 min­utes.

Birr struck right back and their out­side cen­tre found a gap­ing hole in the Bal­brig­gan de­fence to score un­der the posts. The Of­faly side at­tacked again from the restart and while Bal­brig­gan de­fended well and cleared their lines, the vis­i­tors kept com­ing back. Hav­ing won a penalty in mid­field, they kicked to the corner and mauled over for a try to bring them within two points af­ter 20 min­utes.

Bal­brig­gan then gave away an­other penalty for off­side and there was a fur­ther kick to the corner. How­ever, good de­fend­ing by Bryce led to a penalty to the home side and brought some re­lief.

The hosts worked their way up the field and won an­other penalty and had the ben­e­fit of an­other 10 me­tres when the Birr men dis­agreed with the ref­eree’s view. This time Bal­brig­gan de­cided to take a scrum rather than the three points and those on the side­line who thought that may have been the wrong de­ci­sion were si­lenced as Smith and Cald­well worked their trade­mark slip pass for a try un­der the posts. Again, Han­ley con­verted to leave Bal­brig­gan 21–12 up at half-time.

Bal­brig­gan’s kick-off didn’t go the re­quired ten me­tres at the start of the sec­ond half, but it worked in their favour when scrum half Smith robbed the en­su­ing scrum and fed Ciaran Malone who made about 20 me­tres be­fore be­ing hauled down il­le­gally. Han­ley kept his scor­ing record in­tact when adding three points from the penalty.

The best score came when a ball was de­liv­ered quickly from the li­ne­out and Henry Bryce was set away by Han­ley. Bryce rode a number of tack­les be­fore squeez­ing over the line.

Bal­brig­gan were over the white­wash again when sub­sti­tute Staunton was put away and left ev­ery­one on his wake, but the ref­eree ad­judged the pass for­ward.

Andy Whit­ney re­ceived a 10-minute sin-bin­ning for a high tackle but was soon fol­lowed to the rest area when the Birr flanker re­ceived a straight red for tak­ing a swing at the Bal­brig­gan scrum half. Luck­ily con­tact was not made as it would have been a knock­out punch.

From the penalty Bal­brig­gan went to the corner and from the fol­low­ing maul an­other switch be­tween Smith and Cald­well saw the skip­per get in for his sec­ond try and Han­ley com­pleted the Bal­brig­gan scor­ing with the con­ver­sion.

The match fin­ished with Birr dis­rupt­ing a Bal­brig­gan at­tack and forc­ing an in­ter­cept to score a con­so­la­tion try un­der the posts.

Over­all, it was a good win for the home side even though they didn’t have it their own way. For long pe­ri­ods Birr dom­i­nated the for­ward en­coun­ters, but good play from Ha­gan and the Malone broth­ers en­sured that they made very lit­tle progress.

Bal­brig­gan were un­der pres­sure in the scrums, but the in­tro­duc­tion of Anto Whe­lan sorted that out, while Ciaran Malone made good yardage when the op­por­tu­ni­ties arose.

The backs ran the ball when they could and Mike Han­ley’s dis­tri­bu­tion was ex­cel­lent. How­ever, the man of the match award went to the player who to many was least vis­i­ble but was do­ing a huge amount of work, par­tic­u­larly in de­fence - Ian Mur­phy.

With Eden­derry slip­ping up at Athy the same day, Bal­brig­gan now re­claim top spot, with an away game to come against strug­glers Garda at West­manstown next Sun­day af­ter­noon.

Ac­tion from Sun­day’s clash be­tween Bal­brig­gan and Birr. Picture: Caro­line Mcfad­den

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.