Saturday 25 November 2017

Youth and experience a potent mix for Balbriggan

BALBRIGGAN wrapped up the pool stage of the Jenkinson Cup with a win against Navan in an enjoyable game under lights.

The hosts opened the scoring after five minutes when Billy Phelan took a drop goal after the forwards had set him up in a good position to strike, but Navan struck back quickly when their centre picked up a Balbriggan kick and ran through the defence to score under the posts. However, the conversion attempt was missed and from the kick-off Balbriggan attacked back and got a penalty for offside. Phelan struck the ball between the posts to put Balbriggan 6-5 ahead. With Balbriggan using the choke tackle to good effect and holding Navan up in the mauls, they were winning the put-in to scrums, while McNulty at scrum half was giving some good deliveries to Phelan who managed to set Mullen and Healy free and Navan were having to scramble to defend. Balbriggan's dominance bore fruit coming up to halftime when winger Tommo Shannon was impeded after chipping ahead and a penalty try was awarded to give the home side a half-time cushion -13-5. In the second half Mullen set McNulty through for a try, before Navan made a good break and looked as if they would force their way over for a try until a great steal by second row Egan - followed up by a more impressive clearance kick - eased the pressure. In the last few minutes the old guns of O'Connor and Mollahan came on and at the ensuing five-metre scrum they rumbled over, and while it looked as if Mollahan had control of the ball it was O'Connor who claimed the score. This was again a good effort from Balbriggan as they continue to blood their younger players, and it appears the criteria to play on the team at present is to be either under 20 or over 40! Nevertheless, the ability to blood the younger players alongside the experienced older guys will surely pay dividends. Sean Bruton at full back and Anto Whelan in the second row were the best of the youngsters on display. From Navan's point of view they put on a spirited display and would feel that the final scoreline did not reflect their efforts. Indeed, if they had given their fine centres more ball it may have been a different result.

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