Monday 19 February 2018

'Stones sitting in danger area

Next game is away to Seapoint

This was a must-win game for both sides who languish at the bottom of the division and for Greystones, a game they should have and indeed could have won.

However, it was a game of two halves. After their improved performance, although losing to Bective the previous week, there was a degree of confidence that the trip to Cork might see further improvements and there was certainly that, but alas another loss was the final outcome.

The pitch at Midleton was in poor condition and as the game progressed it was difficult to distinguish one side from another in ruck and maul situations.

Stones kicked off into a stiff breeze but as the ball hit the ground it was hacked on by Midletons second row Ryan Lehane with the ball skirting towards the Greystones line and only for some quick covering back from Stones' left wing Jordan Egan a certain try was averted.

However from the resultant lineout the home team moved the ball across their backline with centre Gary Colbert crashing over under the posts for a try, converted by fullback Jeff Hitchmough to go into a seven-point lead after three minutes.

In the passage of play from the lineout, Stones outhalf Andrew Kealy was prostrate on the ground and when medical attention arrived it was seen that there was a lot of blood coming from his mouth forcing him to leave the field for attention. Replacement Padraig Geoghegan went to full back with Ross Spillane going into the number 10 slot.

Within five minutes, parity on the scoreboard was restored with Geoghegan finishing off a well worked move from inside the Stones half with centre James Power and wing forward Luke Mantle being prominent in putting him into space to gallop in from 30 metres to score close in to the posts with Spillane converting.

The remainder of the half saw both sides trade territory with the home team using their large pack to grind forward but Stones were defending well, while their backline were making some good runs with right wing Brendan Kennedy threatening to breach their line on a number of occasions but their defence was equally sound.

With 32 minutes on the clock Stones conceded a penalty on their 10-metre line with Hitchmough slotting to put them into a three point lead. With Kealy once again having to leave the field to get further medical attention for his injury, it looked

with the conclusion of the half, although Stones were in arrears, they would have the benefit of a strong wind.

However it seemed that all they had to do was secure possession and play the territory game but it was Midleton who with replacement scrum half Gearoid Collins pulling the strings, upped their game with Stones on the back foot in the opening 10 minutes.

Stones finally got some good go-forward ball and were soon in the opposition 22 and despite the concession of three penalties by Midleton in a 10 minute period, Stones decided, unwisely it seemed, to ask Kealy to attempt the kicks but the ground was treacherous and on each occasion his standing foot went from under him.

They still had good territory but their lineout was now also failing and on three occasions the ball was lost to the opposition. On 60 minutes they almost breached the Midleton line with both Ben Armstrong and James Power going close but once again the home team defence was solid.

With five minutes to go and Collins causing some concern in Greystones ranks they looked certain to score again but fortunately the visitors defence held out and although still losing the game, they did get a valuable losing point for the second week running, how that will pan out might prove to be invaluable with five game to go in the season.

Last weekend Greystones managed a vital draw against Old Crescent at home and next week will see them travel to Seapoint for yet another must-win game with only one remaining fixture to go.

Wicklow People

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