3rd XV Overcome Carrick 3rd XV to reach the final of the Forster Plat

3rd XV Overcome Carrick 3rd XV to reach the final of the Forster Plate

Following a well-deserved break after a busy period, the 3rd XV returned to action on Saturday, when they made the short trip along the coast to take on Carrick 3rd XV in the semi-final of the Forster Plate competition.

Heavy overnight rain which continued on and off throughout the morning and during the match, made playing conditions on Saturday testing to say the least. With an extremely heavy pitch Instonians kicked off with the advantage of a strong and gusting wind.

The visitors began the first half brightly and showed their intent by playing a high tempo game from the beginning despite the poor conditions.

The forwards led initially by Peadair Meenan and Rab Brown carried well putting Carrick onto their back foot, enabling Instonians to take play deep into the opposition half of the field.

Following a series of rucks Carrick’s defence was beginning to creak and out half Fraser Wright exploited a gap to dart over for Instonians first score of the match. The missed conversion left the score 0-5 after five minutes.

Instonians once again showed their intent by playing tempo rugby while also showing good composure and game management, using the strong wind to keep the home team pinned into their own half.

With Instonians applying the pressure under the posts, and attempted clearance kick by Carrick was charged down by Aaron Davis, who managed to re-gather the ball and sneak over for the second try of the match. Once again in the difficult conditions the conversion drifted wide 0-10.

Recognising the need to make use of the wind advantage in the first half, the visitors again took the attack to Carrick, defying the worsening conditions, and continuing to move the ball and attack the wide channels whenever possible.

On one such occasion and following several phases of play, the ball was moved through the hands to second row Ryan Hickland who found himself in unchartered territory in the mid field and with space to attack. There was a sharp intake of breath from the large travelling support as Hickey took off (at his own pace) and attacked the Carrick defence. To the delight of the crowd Hickey timed his pass perfectly to set Jerome Hannan off up the wing. What looked like a lost cause soon resulted in the visitor’s third try, as not for the first time this season, Jerome showed great strength and footwork to force his way over in the corner. With the conversion missed the score at half time moved to 0-15.

Half Time 0-15

Playing into the wind in the second half, Instonians were aware that retaining possession would be key to success. However; as has been the case far too often this season, poor discipline began to creep into their game. The concession of penalties early in the second half allowed Carrick to gain momentum and field position, which enabled them to apply pressure to the visitors defence for the first time in the match. The pressure soon told and Carrick score their first unconverted try of the match, 5-15.

From the restart, Carrick once again took advantage of poor discipline and pinned the visitors close to their line. From five meters out, a clever lineout caught the Instonians defence flat footed as the Carrick second row crashed over for their second try of the match. Again the wind ensured the conversion drifted wide taking the score to 10-15 with only ten minutes of the second having passed.

With only one score between the teams and thirty minutes to play, Instonians now knew that they had a game on their hands, and that ball retention and discipline would have to improve if they were to come through the match with a victory.

To their credit the team responded well, with Gavin Oakes and Fraser Wright pulling the strings and managing the play close to the rucks and in midfield, where they weren’t short of willing ball carriers from both forwards and backs, to take on the home team’s defence around the fringes. With Instonians in control with the ball in hand, Carrick began to show signs of frustration as they conceded several penalties for infringements in the tackle/ruck areas. This allowed the visitors to keep the pressure on the home team as they probed the touch line, making use of the lineout which was now beginning to work well.

Moving into the final quarter and with the match very much still in the balance, the conditions under foot were quickly deteriorating, which began to impact on the game as it became more and more of an arm-wrestle.

With both teams tiring, it was the visitors whose fitness appeared to come to the fore as they pushed for the next score which would provide some daylight. Some strong running from Richard Maguire and Sam Fryers in midfield took Instonians across the gain line and provided the momentum required to set up several phases of play deep in the Carrick half. With gaps now appearing in the defence, Instonians once again broke clear to score their fourth try of the match. The conversion missed extended Instonians lead 10-20.

With some breathing space and only ten minutes left to play, the visitors began to enjoy an extended period of possession showing great intent, along with ball retention and continuity skills. This eventually led to Instonians fifth try of the match through Fraser Wright who darted up the blind side, deftly chipping infield behind the covering defence and winning the foot race to the ball to slide over the line. With the conversion missed the score moved to 10-25.

The final minutes of the match were played mainly in the Carrick half of the field as Instonians pushed for a late score, however; much to the relief of all the players the referee soon blew his whistle for the end of the match.

Final Score 10-25

The 3’s squad on Saturday showed real spirit and togetherness throughout the match, and a real desire to win. When they came under pressure the leaders in the squad came to the fore as they led from the front, which gave confidence to the younger and less experience players, which allowed them to express themselves. Its matches like Saturdays which define a team which can only be of benefit as season continues.

Thanks to Carrick for hosting Saturday’s match which was played in good spirit by both teams throughout. Given the conditions, the quality of rugby played was a credit to Carrick and Instonians as they endeavoured to play rugby the way it should be played.

Thank you also to the referee for officiating Saturdays match. The conditions were poor throughout however; Saturday’s referee managed the game with the required level of common sense to enable the game to flow.  

A big thank you goes to the large contingent of traveling support on Saturday, again the weather didn’t lend itself to spectator sports, however; the squad certainly appreciated the vocal support, encouragement and banter.

Rickety!

Squad 1-18: Peadair Meenan (C), Jonny Harding, Richard Fannin, Ryan Hickland, Peter Bradley, Matt Austin, Rab Brown, Aaron Davis, Gavin Oakes, Fraser Wright, Johan Markarian, Richard Maguire, Sam Fryers, Jerome Hannan, Robb Barnes, Matthew Bradley, Finlay Bodel, Kevin McKee