Monday 18 December 2017

'Stones grab top spot after thumping win

Rugby Ulster Bank Div 2B: Eight tries against Derry

The race for promotion from Division 2B of the Ulster Bank League is sure to go down to the last play of the final match but with just three games remaining Greystones sit proudly at the top of the table thanks to an emphatic 57-22 win away over City of Derry at the weekend. The final scoreline included a total of eight tries to Greystones with full-back Andrew Kealy delivering a master class in place kicking converting seven and adding a further penalty.

Greystones RFC 57 City of Derry 22

City of Derry are largely transformed from the side that suffered a demoralising 71 point trouncing when they visited Dr Hickey Park last October. Since then former Irish Schools and Ulster U20's head coach Terry McMaster returned to take control of the side and a reformed Derry have gone on to record five wins out of their last six games only losing out narrowly away to Wanderers, so Kevin Lewis's men were taking nothing for granted as they travelled to the north west knowing a bonus point win was needed to keep the pressure on Armagh at the top of the table while hoping their title rivals might slip up on their visit to Barnhall.

Played in perfect conditions the first half was not unlike last weeks match against Dungannon with the home side controlling much of the possession but failing to put the points on the board. Greystones for their part have proven to be ruthless finishers whenever the opportunity presents and despite only breaching the Derry 22 four times in the first 40 minutes they still came away with three tries and a penalty.

Andrew Kealy opened the scoring after eight minutes with an early indication of his kicking form splicing the posts from 35 meters while the first of Greystones eight tries did not arrive until the 20th minute.

Always dangerous with ball in hand Greystones were intent on running whenever the opportunity presented so with a penalty on their own ten meter line Greystones opted to play it quickly when most team would be kicking for field position.

Out-half Killian Marmion fed the ball to centre Con Callan who terrorised the Derry defence all afternoon. On this occasion Callan evaded several defenders to make about thirty meters before being brought down outside the opponents 22 meter line.

Greystones quickly recycled with Captain Bobby Clancy and John Campbell making further inroads with strong carries before the ball was recycled back to Callan who broke clear before feeding Padraig Geoghegan for his first try of the afternoon. Andrew Kealy coolly converted from close to the left touchline.

The second try followed five minutes later when the other half of Greystones dual strike force, Jack Keating weaved his way through to the Derry back line to score in the right corner. Taking the ball in his own half with a burst of acceleration he attacked straight down the right touchline slipping off several missed tackles and side stepped his way through the Derry defence to break clear and cross unopposed.

The difficult touchline conversion attempt proved the only blot on Kealys copybook for the afternoon as it drifted just wide. Whilst Derry were still reeling from what they may consider a soft try Greystones started playing with real confidence and minutes later conjured up their third try in a move that saw the ball moving between forwards and backs at pace as Greystones rampaged forward. Derry simply had no answer to the speed of the attack and were left chasing shadows as the final pass fed Kealy who crossed for a brilliant team try that he converted himself.

Derry were still determined to show they had moved on from that 71 point mauling in October and were not going to lie down and let the visitors have it all their own way. They pushed back at Greystones forcing a penalty five meters out from the line.

With the Derry pack proving marginally stronger in the set piece they opted for the scrum and immediately had 'Stones under pressure resulting in a series of collapsed scrums and resets. Greystones can consider themselves fortunate referee Karol Collins chose not to award the penalty try that on another day would have inevitably resulted but after the fourth collapse found themselves a man down when he issued a yellow card to Greystones prop Conor Pearse.

Now with just a seven man pack the scrum pressure continued and following two more resets Derry obviously considered the penalty try was never going to come and spread the ball wide where full back Jack Beatty found space to score in the corner. The missed conversion proved the last act of the first half.

Greystones turned up the pressure in the second half playing a lot more of the game in the opponents half with forwards Dan Mannion, Mike Lea and Bobby Clancy prominent in making clean breaks through the Derry defence.

Their fast offloading game had Derry on the back foot continually and the first score of the half did not take long to arrive. Out-half Killian Marmion, always sharp and looking for the opportunity to attack started the move with a side step and break with Barry Fitzpatrick in support taking the ball on but was just hauled down short of the line. With Greystones attacking the line Derry were penalised for offside and quick thinking Captain Bobby Clancy took a tap penalty and charged over from five meters.

Con Callan added the next as he scythed through the Derry defence in trademark style after Bobby Clancy fielded a clearing kick high behind his head in a catch that would be applauded in Croke Park. He moved the ball quickly across the field where Callan found himself in space and danced his way through the Derry defence to touch down under the posts.

Greystones now showed the ruthlessness that has them top points scorers in the All Ireland league. Three more tries were to follow; Barry Fitzpatrick refusing to give an inch charged down an attempted clearance and beat the retreating defence to touch down. Padraig Geoghegan added the next when Killian Marmion floated a sublime kick over the Derry defence straight into Geoghegans arms for the simplest of touch downs.

Derry continued to battle and picked up a couple of consolation scores through flanker Craig Huey and Captain Adam Bratton but were stung by a Killian Marmion intercept as they chased a fourth try bonus point. Stepping into the line Marmion raced clear with Jack Keating in support and clearly tiring he fed the ball to Keating who made no mistake to touch down in the corner.

The win leaves Greystones level with Armagh on sixty points but top of the table courtesy of a massive points differential of over 100 points while Armagh failed to secure the all important bonus point in their defeat away to Barnhall. Next up for both sides are tricky local derby's with Greystones hosting Bective at Dr Hickey Park on Saturday, March 25, while on the same afternoon Armagh host neighbours Dungannon in what is certain to be a crucial weekend in the destiny of the league title.

Bray People

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