3rd XV lose to Queens 3rd XV 7-27

Back to league action on Wednesday night when the 3rdXV hosted Queens University 3rdXV at Shawsbridge. The conditions were perfect for a mid-week fixture, with clear skies and little or no wind.

There are good points and bad points to playing mid-week fixtures, with the major difficulties being the availability of players due to commitments outside of rugby, along with the quick turnaround following a tough Saturday fixture, which ruled several players out through injury. Several players also carried minor injuries picked up on Saturday into last night’s match. These and other factors all played their part in squad availability and selection for last night’s match.

As a result the squad included a number of debutants, and required a number of players to play in unfamiliar positions, not ideal when playing against a young Queens’s team who have the benefit of playing and training together as a squad on a more regular basis.

However; as has been the case for each fixture this season the 3’s were able to field a full squad of players.

The first ten minutes of the game were evenly matched in terms of possession, however; Queens did enjoy territorial advantage during this spell and despite brave defending from the young Instonians squad the advantage soon told, as Queens managed to squeeze into the corner for an unconverted try, 0-5.

Queens continued to play an expansive game, retaining possession and pressing for a second try. The Instonians defence had other ideas and continued to pressurise Queens and forced a number of mistakes and turnovers. Eventually the pressure told and a line break from Queens led to a converted try under the posts leaving the score 0-12 at half time.

Turning around at half time Instonians knew they were still in the game and continued to compete and frustrate the youthful Queens team who were throwing everything at Instonians. Once again the pressure told and with a man in the sin bin, the numerical advantage told, as Queens once again scored an unconverted try 0-17.

With thirty minutes left on the clock it would have been easy for heads to drop, but the squad picked themselves up and continued to pressurise the opposition in defence, and take the game to the opposition when in possession. Following a sustained period of possession from the Instonians pack, Queens conceded a number of penalties. Rather than taking the set piece, quick tap ball set up a number of rucks which eventually led to Peadair Meenan squeezing over for Instonians first score of the match. With the successful conversion the score moved to 07-17.

In the final quarter, the game was still being played at a frantic pace, which suited the youthful Queens squad, and eventually their superior fitness told as they scored two late unconverted trys to leave the final score 07-27 to Queens.

For the neutral, last night’s match would have been good to watch, as both teams endeavoured to play an entertaining game involving back and forwards. However; for the 3’s squad this was a performance which deserved a better result, and there are more positives than negatives to take from this game, which will stand the squad in good stead as the season moves on.

A big thank you to the boys who stepped up at the last minute to fill the gaps in the squad, and to those players who once again played out of position, it is what the 3’s is all about, and it is much appreciated.

Thank you also to Queens, who as one would expect, played some very entertaining, hi-paced rugby, and over the eighty minutes deserved their victory. Not many teams will come away with a victory against Queens this season.

Both teams were also lucky to have our referee last night, who had an excellent game. It’s hard to think of a questionable decision throughout the eighty minutes.

Team 1 to 18: Dennis Shuttleworth, Dan Lindsey, Richard Fannin, Matthew Bradley, Ryan Hickland, Matt Austin, Fergal Green, Curtis Brady, Wayne Kelly, Richard Maguire (C), Donal Moloney, Ian Jones, Josh Morrow, Lewis Bodel, Ruairi Forester, Jerome Hannon, Johan Markarian, Peadair Meenan