Kil­lian guides Grey­stones to draw with tough Na­van out­fit

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - CIARANNOBL­E at Dr., Hickey Park

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.

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