’Stones get the job done
AN efficient rather than spectacular performance was the verdict after this five try victory for Greystones away to Belfast Harlequins on Saturday afternoon.
And for the second week in succession ‘Stones held the opposition to zero on the scoreboard, testament to a whole team performance and once again as satisfying for head coach Kevin Lewis and his assistants Cillian Willis and Warren O’Kelly as try bonus.
With six wins out of six each, Greystones join Barnhall at the top of Division 2B separated by just a single bonus point and a massive eleven points clear of Wanderers in third place. Free scoring Greystones are by a significant margin the highest points scorers across all five divisions and whilst the coaching team won’t allow anyone close to the squad to look further than the next game, the back to back home and away fixtures between the two leading sides either side of Christmas will surely go a long way to determining who gains automatic promotion at the end of the season.
Ahead of Saturday’s match Greystones were forced into a late change when influential back row Robin O’Sullivan cried off but the rejigged pack saw the return of last year’s Captain Dan Mannion for his first start in over a year.
For the first fifteen minutes of Saturday’s match the final result would have been far from the minds of anyone who witnessed the manner in which the home side took the game to their visitors and set siege inside the Greystones 22.
Indeed Harlequins had their opportunities to score but were let down by poor handling when it mattered most as the final pass was knocked on or spilled in the tackle and Greystones enjoyed a temporary reprieve.
After ten minutes of play, with a clear overlap the opening score looked a formality but Greystones centre Con Callan stepped in for an attempted intercept knocking the ball on preventing the score and earning himself a yellow card in the process. Down to fourteen men and still under pressure Greystones dug deep and played their way out of trouble keeping their line intact.
The stalemate was finally broken moments after the sin binning period was completed.
Greystones pushed their defensive line up into the faces of the Harlequins backs and an attempted kick ahead was charged down by Ryan O’Loughlin who followed up the resulting foot race to win possession and set up a series of plays before Ian Cullinane crashed over from close to the line.
Andrew Kealy added the conversion and two minutes later added a penalty to put a ten point gap between the sides.
Greystones have been making a habit of scoring either side of half time and delivered the same dose on Saturday.
With the first half deep into overtime Paudie Geoghegan stepped in off his wing and made a break through the middle of the pitch leaving defenders in his wake supported by Oisin Lennon and Andrew Lynch.
A couple of well-timed passes saw Lynch with the space to finish the move in style.
Substitute Ferdia Kenny entered the fray early in the second half and wasted little time in adding to his impressive try scoring run when he finished a move started when the Greystones pack won a scrum penalty driving the opposition backwards.
The resulting plays found Kenny with just the little bit of space his blistering pace needs to inflict damage and rounded the defence to score. With Greystones now dominating play they did not have to wait long for the fourth try and bonus point delivered in typical fashion by Con Callan side stepping his way past the defenders to score and Ryan O’Loughlin wrapped up the scoring with the final play of the game.
Captain Andrew Kealy chipped in with a total four conversions and his first half penalty.
After withstanding the early pressure and yellow card Greystones did not allow their hosts back into their 22 for the rest of the game. Their defence keeping Harlequins on the back foot and from the platform provided by a pack on top in the set piece and loose the probed and attacked all afternoon. Efficient if not spectacular this was a potentially difficult hurdle overcome. The league now enters into a three week break that will be welcomed by players looking to heal the bumps and strains and resumes on December 1st when Sundays Well make the journey from Cork to visit Dr Hickey Park.
Conor Pearse of Greystones under pressure against Belfast Harlequins.