3rd XV win at home to Ballyclare 3rd XV

Instonians 3rd XV v Ballyclare 3rd XV 01/12/2018

Following a two week break Instonians 3rd XV were back in league action on Saturday past with a home fixture against Ballyclare 3rd XV.

Following some heavy overnight rain, playing conditions on Saturday were relatively good. While it was overcast, there was no wind or rain, and the pitch was reasonably firm under foot.

Following the 3’s previous outing against Larne, the squad were well aware that poor discipline most likely cost us the match and ultimately four valuable points. Pre match discussions centred on discipline, and how this fixture provided an opportunity to reverse the trend and to make amends.

The opening exchanges were fairly evenly matched with most of the play taking place in and around the two ten meter lines. Instonians defence which had also been questioned recently appeared to have turned up today, and with strong tackling and good line speed Ballyclare were forced into making mistakes, and either turning the ball over or conceding penalties.

Unfortunately Instonians were unable to take advantage of the possession they had, and were also guilty of spilling ball at critical moments.

The stalemate was broken midway through the first half when Instonians conceded a penalty in front of their posts for a high tackle. With the kick successful Ballyclare took the lead 0-3.

Instonians responded well and with Gavin Oaks and Ashley Black controlling matters in and around rucks, good use was made of strong runners who were able to penetrate the Ballyclare defence to set up go forward ball.

From a scrappy lineout just inside the Ballyclare 22 meter line Instonians were awarded a scrum close to the Ballyclare line. James Poland playing at No 8 picked from the base of the scrum and brushed aside the defence to crash over for the home team’s first score. Richard Maguire was successful with the conversion, moving the score to 7-3.

As the first half drew to a close Instonians continued to dominate territory pinning Ballyclare into their own half. While the visitor’s lineout was functioning well, the Instonians midfield defence was working well and pressurising the opposition into making mistakes and turning over possession.

Instonians were awarded a penalty on the stroke of half time following some great defensive work by Rab Brown. With the clock ticking down Instonians sensibly opted to take long range shot at goal to see out the first half. As the kick drifted wide the referee blew the whistle for half time.

Half time score 7-3

Instonians began the second half brightly and continued to play some good rugby, combing both the backs and forwards who worked hard to retain possession and force Ballyclare onto the back foot. Following a prolonged period of possession, and with the Ballyclare defence stretched, the ball was moved quickly to James Poland who was loitering in a wide channel. James used his power and lack of pace to crash over for his own, and Instonians second try of the match. With the conversion attempt unsuccessful the score moved to 12-3.

Ballyclare now began to enjoy a good period of possession testing the home team’s defence using strong runners close to the ruck and in midfield. From one such attack Ballyclare were awarded a penalty and opted to kick for touch in the hope of using their efficient lineout close to the Instonians line.

From the lineout Instonians turned the ball over and from a break and strong run from Peadair Meenan, managed to turn defence into attack. With Ballyclare on the back foot the move was taken beyond the visitor’s 22 meter line by Nathanial Johnston and Erin Wagner. With the pressure mounting Ballyclare conceded a penalty in front of their posts which Instonians sensibly opted to kick to extend their lead to 15-3 with twenty minutes remaining.

The final quarter of the match became increasingly scrappy with both teams beginning to tire this led to more penalties being conceded and mistakes being made. Frustration also began to creep into the game and following an altercation Instonians were reduced to fourteen men following a sending off.

Moving into the final minutes of the game wise heads from Gavin Oakes and Richard Maguire managed to direct the game and control possession until the final whistle.

The final score was a home victory 15-3.

The 3rd XV continue to punch above their weight in a very competitive league, and credit to Saturday’s squad, the performance was the performance we had hoped for following a lack lustre display in their last outing. The squad gave full commitment on Saturday, and showed through their much improved defence and discipline, that they are capable of putting in a performance when it matters.

Thanks to Ballyclare who also showed that they are a very capable team, clearly intent on playing rugby, and contributing to what was an entertaining match to watch.

Thanks also to the referee, this was a match which at times had the potential to become a bit volatile, however; the referee on Saturday managed to control the match allowing the rugby to be played.

Team 1-18: Peadair Meenan (C), Andy Davis, , Richard Fannin , Ryan Hickland Matthew Bradley, Erin Wagner, Rab Brown, James Poland, Gavin Oakes, Ashley Black, Jerome Hannon. Richard Maguire, Omar Bouazza, Johan Markarian, Lewis Bodel, Nathaniel Johnston, Dennis Shuttleworth (FR), Jordane Emmanuelle.