’Stones get the job done

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT -

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.

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