Bal­brig­gan on ‘Warr’ foot­ing for a ti­tle push

Fingal Independent - - SPORT - AIL Di­vi­sion 2B

BAL­BRIG­GAN’S Di­vi­sion 2B ti­tle prospects now rest en­tirely in their own hands af­ter they col­lected yet an­other bonus-point vic­tory to kick-start 2019 on a high note.

They play host to cur­rent lead­ers Eden­derry next Sun­day and a win in that game would put the Fin­gal side firmly in the driv­ing seat to se­cure pro­mo­tion to 2A in the com­ing weeks.

On an very mild Jan­uary day, both Bal­brig­gan and Mid­land War­riors dished up a good game to get the New Year off to a fly­ing start and in the end it was a very hard-fought vic­tory for the hosts.

Nev­er­the­less, with a bonus point se­cured for the eighth time this sea­son - Eden­derry only have five - Bal­brig­gan’s abil­ity to score heav­ily in most games could help

TA­BLES

see them over the line to se­cure that cov­eted pro­mo­tion spot.

Player coach Henry Bryce’s high, hang­ing kick from the start was se­cured by Bal­brig­gan hands and even­tu­ally the home side mauled the ball from a 22-me­tre li­ne­out and Ciaran Malone broke loose to barge off for the game’s first score.

War­riors put Bal­brig­gan un­der pres­sure from the restart and af­ter win­ning a li­ne­out near to their line scrum half Smith didn’t find touch from his clear­ance kick and War­riors ran the ball back and af­ter a few phases got the equal­is­ing score.

War­riors were com­ing more into the game and steal­ing a lot of Bal­brig­gan ball at the break­down, while Bal­brig­gan looked to run at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity and on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions War­riors were let off the hook though the ball not go­ing to hand.

Even­tu­ally, though, Bal­brig­gan got it right and Bryce made a good break to set An­drew Miller away. Miller made good ground be­fore of­fload­ing to flanker Whit­ney, who was run­ning a good sup­port line, and he crashed over for the sec­ond try.

From the last play of the half the ref ad­judged that Bryce had played the ball from an off­side po­si­tion - it cer­tainly didn’t look so from the Bal­brig­gan side­line - and War­riors slot­ted over the penalty to go in only 10-8 down.

Bal­brig­gan at­tacked from the restart and de­spite some poor passes man­aged to keep the ball to hand and Miller was de­nied a try when the ref said he was held up.

From the fol­low­ing scrum Gra­ham O’reilly thought that he was over, but again the match of­fi­cial wasn’t con­vinced.

At the next at­tack Bal­brig­gan were pe­nalised, but the War­riors didn’t clear the ball to touch, Miller caught the ball and ran back into mid­field where he fed Bryce who then put Staunton away on the near wing. Staunton was held up just short and bun­dled into touch for a five-me­tre li­ne­out.

How­ever, a su­perb steal by Whit­ney from the Mid­land throw saw Bal­brig­gan drive to the line and with Bryce adding his con­sid­er­able weight to the push Sean Malone was able to get over for the touch­down.

There are sev­eral Bal­brig­gan play­ers who will not want to see what hap­pened next as War­riors gath­ered the ball from the kick-off and their cen­tre evaded a num­ber of tack­les to score un­der the posts. Sud­denly, from be­ing ahead, the game was tied at 15-15.

Bal­brig­gan at this stage started to use the bench, which for once was packed with ex­pe­ri­ence. Anto Whe­lan re­placed Char­lie Browne, who had picked up a knock, while Con Casey, mak­ing a wel­come re­turn, re­placed Mike Hanly and Jon Davis came on for Sean Malone.

The home side now made the best use of any op­por­tu­nity and Casey used his ex­pe­ri­ence to pin the War­riors back with some telling kicks. Miller made an­other break and fed O’brien whose danc­ing feet got him close to the line where he off­loaded to Mur­phy who got over for the bonus-point try.

Mo­ments later Bal­brig­gan had a penalty un­der the posts and wisely de­cided to kick to put two scores be­tween them.

The fi­nal nail was driven in by Andy Whit­ney, fin­ish­ing a good move across the line when Casey had sent sub­sti­tute Glen Healy away. Hanly, hav­ing missed all his ear­lier con­ver­sions, nailed the most dif­fi­cult one.

War­riors came back look­ing to see if they could earn a bonus point but were held out, even if it cost Miller a yel­low card. Nev­er­the­less, the vis­i­tors caused all sorts of prob­lems at the rucks all af­ter­noon and while Bal­brig­gan did bet­ter in the sec­ond half it is an area that they are go­ing to have to work on.

Hav­ing Gav Mullen back in the front row was a big plus and in the backs Ciaran Ver­don and Ian

Bal­brig­gan cap­tain Conor Cald­well makes a break dur­ing Sun­day’s vic­tory over Mid­land War­riors.

Bal­brig­gan’s Ian Mur­phy off­loads dur­ing Sun­day’s vic­tory over Mid­land War­riors. Pic­tures: Caro­line Mc­fad­den

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