Killian guides Greystones to draw with tough Navan outfit
THE boot of out-half Killian Marmion kicked all the points to earn Greystones a draw against Navan in the Leinster League encounter on Saturday afternoon.
Dr Hickey Park played host to a rough and rugged affair between two teams who will be focused on having big seasons this year in their respective AIL divisions starting in two weeks.
Navan will play two divisions above their opponents as they gained promotion into 1B last season, while Greystones remain in 2B after narrowly missing out on promotion last season, losing to Rainey Old Boys R.F.C in the promotion play-off.
Greystones come off the back of a tight victory against Tullamore last week - beating them 16-19. A positive sign for this game was the inclusion of three u20s players from last season: Luke Boyce at hooker, Mark Myler at fullback and Ben Carolan off the bench. Three more lads from that 20s team played for the seconds after the firsts contest.
Unlike the showcase of attacking and flamboyant rugby we had seen in the Rugby World Cup a few hours prior, this was more of an old-school physical slugfest with a lot of the rugby being played by the front five.
In the first half, the home side dominated large parts of the possession playing in tight around the rucks, front rows New Zealander Dan Mau’u and Luke Boyce carrying well with backrows Cormac O’Donoghue and Robin O’Sullivan putting in hard shifts throughout.
It looked as if both teams were suffering from a bit of early season rustiness as there was a lot of handling errors on both sides.
The Stones set pieces looked shaky at times in the first half with the untraditional method of the number seven throwing into the lineout.
These factors all contributed to the home side’s lack of points on the scoreboard despite consuming most of the possession. Credit to the visitors they met the pressure with tough and hard defence.
The ball rarely found its way to the backline but when it did it was clear Stones were keen to get winger Paudie Geoghegan on the ball as he almost broke into space a couple of times in the opening half. Once from a good Killian Marmion cross-field kick and also from a good Jay Curran pass from some backline movement that almost set Geoghegan off. Despite these efforts the home fans only saw their team register three points in the first half, coming from a Marmion penalty. It was 3-0 at the break.
The second half started with a bit more energy being shown from both sides and Navan managed to find their way into the opposing 22.
They started to build the phases through some good pick and goes from their pack, edging closer to the try line, although Greystones managed to rob the ball back, but behind his own try-line Marmion got caught in possession and the visitors managed to win a five-metre scrum giving them a great attacking platform.
The Division 1B side utilised their possession and managed to score off a powerful pick and go move from their big second row. Navan led 5-3 having missed the conversion.
The men in green and white came back strong starting to string passes together and getting some good phase play with substitutes Ben Carolan and Michael Douglas making some good carries.
They were awarded a few penalties as they worked their way up the field. Marmion would kick over two more penalties to regain their lead, 9-5.
However, the Meath men came knocking on the door again as they pressed the opposing defence.
The Wicklow men look like they weathered the storm with some good defence in the tackle and the lineout but a hospital pass from winger Matt O’Brien was intercepted by the Navan centre as he ran to the try-line. 12-9 was the score with not long left on the clock.
Stones refused to go down without a fight and they managed to earn a penalty in a good position. They opted for the posts, a strange decision as some people in the stands thought they should have opted for the corner and aimed to score the winning try, nonetheless Marmion took another good kick putting it right between the uprights 12-12.
The hosts had a golden opportunity in the last play of the game as they had a major overlap, but the ball was knocked forward and the referee blew the final whistle.
Greystones will travel to Malahide to play their first league game of the season in two weeks. It would be imagined that promotion is the main goal of the squad this season and it’ll be an interesting season.
Greystones team: Mark Myler, Matt O’Brien, Rob Connolly, Paudie Geoghan, Killian Marmion, Alex Ryan, Dan Mau’u, Luke Boyce, Conor Pearse, Darragh Higgins, John Campbell, Cormac O’Donoghue, Robin O’Sullivan, Ronan Mannion. Subs: Barry Treanor, Michael Douglas, Ben Carolan, Ian O’ Beirne, Adam Benson, Shane Marmion
Navan’s Callum Smith gets up above John Cambell of Greystones in a Navan lineout.
Greystones and Navan players shake hands after the final whistle.