3rd XV win 22-19 against Limavady 2nd XV

Coming off the back of two defeats in their opening two matches, the 3rd XV faced a tough test on Saturday playing at home against the league leaders Limavady 2nd XV, who after their opening three matches were undefeated.

Instonians kicked off in nearly perfect conditions, playing in warm bright sunshine, with a light breeze, which gave the home side a slight advantage during the first half.

The opening ten minutes were evenly matched in terms of possession and territory, Instonians looked in control with the ball in hand, and were able to apply enough pressure when Limavady had possession, to force a number of mistakes resulting in turnover ball and penalties conceded. The pressure eventually told as Limavady conceded a penalty within kicking range, giving James Poland the opportunity to step up, and slot the ball between the uprights, giving Instonians an early 3-0 lead.

Instonians continued to enjoy good periods of possession with their forwards dominating the scrums, and providing a good platform, and quick ball from open play, this allowed the impressive midfield partnership of Ben Chalmers and Kadum Hassan, who was making his debut for the 3’s, to attack and breach the opposition defence.

Unfortunately all of the Instonians good work was undone during a ten minute spell when as a result of some poor defence, Limavady managed to score two breakaway trys against the run of play, both of which were converted, leaving the score line 03-14 to the visitors.

Undeterred by this setback, and to the teams credit, they bounced straight back and from the kick off, pressed Limavady and forced further mistakes. From one such turnover the forwards took control of the ball, and carried and, recycled well, delivering quick ruck ball. After a number of phases with the defence breached, Ben Chalmers was on hand to cross the line, while also having the presence of mind to get as close to the posts before touching down. The successful conversion moved the score line to 10-14.

With the first half drawing to a close, Instonians once again had the momentum, and used their dominant set piece to keep the Limavady defence on the back foot, creating space for the dangerous backs to attack. Once again from one such attack, the forwards and backs combined well to take the play deep into the Limavady 22, where Gavin Oakes was on hand to crash over from 5 meters out (thankfully it was only five meters or it may have been a struggle for the old fella) Gavin also said had the presence of mind to try to score closer to the posts, however; his legs had other ideas. From slightly further out Richard Maguire successfully slotted the conversion to leave the score at halftime 17-14 in favour of the home team.

Playing into the wind in the second half Instonians were well aware that keeping possession was key to success. Once again the Instonians defensive work kept Limavady pinned back into their own half, and forced mistakes and turnovers.

With little between the teams, the majority of the second have was evenly matched and played between the 22’s. The deadlock was broken moving into the final fifteen minutes when Limavady scored a try in the corner following a kick and chase. With the try unconverted the score moved to 17-19 in favour of the visitors. Unfortunately Limavady’s try scorer was injured touching down and was unable to continue. With the visitors reduced to fourteen men the momentum was now with Instonians, however; Limavady defended heroically, frustrating the home team, who were now enjoying the majority of possession.

With the clock ticking, Instonians went in search of a winning score. From a lineout on the Limavady 10m line Instonians once again stole the ball, and attacked the midfield. Again quick ruck ball allowed the backs to make use of the extra man, and 3’s debutant Kadum Hassam, showed great pace to outflank the covering defence and score what was to be the winning try out wide. With the conversion missed and the final two minutes played out, Instonians 3’s recorded their first victory of the season by 22-19.

Saturday was a great performance from the 3’s especially coming off the back of two tough defeats. The squad on Saturday, had a great blend of youth and experience, from stalwarts, Gavin Oakes and John Carser, to young guys in their first season with the 3’s Matthew Bradley and Ruairi Forester. The squad showed great determination and character and a real ability to enjoy playing rugby the way it should be played.

What was apparent from Saturday’s performance was the benefit that training with the senior players and coaches at the club, has made to the player’s fitness and skill levels, and also to decision making and game management.

The squad are well aware that they have been promoted into a tough league, and every match will be a challenge, however the bar has been set, and they can move forward with confidence that they can compete.

A big thank you to Limavady for making the long journey. They were determined to play running rugby throughout, only kicking as a last resort. The match was also played in great spirit throughout considering how closely contested it was. We look forward to the return fixture after Christmas, and we wish their injured player a speedy recovery.

Thank you also to the referee, this was an evenly contested match, which was managed with consistency and allowed to flow throughout.

Rickety!

Team 1 to 18: Thomas Dowling, Andy Davis, John Carser, Matthew Bradley, Ryan Hickland, Matthew Austin, Reuben Clarke, James Poland, Gavin Oakes, Richard Maguire, Johan Markarian, Ben Chalmers, Kadum Hassan, Lewis Bodel, Scott Croft , Gareth Short, Ruairi Forester, Marty Hamill