3rd XV have bonus point win at Donegal Town 1st XV

Saturday saw the 3rd XV take to the road once more as they made the long journey west to Donegal to take on Donegal Town 1st XV in the league. These two sides had already gone head to head at the end of October, when Instonians were victorious in a closely contested match having score a converted try with the last play against the thirteen men from Donegal.

With the journey having taken longer than expected Instonians arrived with fifteen minutes until kick-off, and little time to prepare. The overnight rain resulted in an extremely heavy pitch with plenty of lying water, which had the potential to dictate how the match would be played.

The first half was a game of two halves. After twenty minutes Instonians has romped into 0-26 lead, which secured a four try bonus point with scores from Fraser Wright (2), Robbie Kirk and Sam Fryers.

These trys came about following some great work by the forwards, who were dominating in all areas of the game. This domination allowed Instonians dangerous backs plenty of opportunity to attack the wide channels, and demonstrate some excellent continuity skills keeping the ball alive, with impressive inter-play between themselves and the forwards, which allowed them to exploit space time and again despite the poor underfoot conditions.

With four trys scored the visitors appeared to take their ‘foot of the gas’, and as Donegal recognised this, they began to enjoy an extended period of possession. Conscious that breaking through the Instonians defence out wide was going to be difficult, the Donegal pack led the charge using strong runners to attack the fringes around the rucks and mauls.

This tactic worked to their advantage as Instonians began to concede penalties allowing the home team to retain possession and gain further territory.

To Instonians credit they defended with real determination, with every player stepping up to make big hits time and again. Soaking up the pressure the clock ticked towards half time with Donegal still pushing for their first score of the match. It wasn’t to be however, the Instonians defence held firm as the referee blew for half time.

Half Time 0-26

The second half began with Instonians on the front foot, and it wasn’t long before the game was put beyond doubt as Robbie Kirk stormed in for the visitor’s fifth try of the match which was successfully converted, taking the score to 0-33.

At this point in the match Donegal were beginning to suffer from several injuries, with a number of players unable to continue. Following what appeared at the time to be a fairly serious shoulder injury, the referee consulted both captains, and with the result of the match beyond doubt, the whistle was blown for the end of the game.

Final score 0-33

With the match out of the way, both sets of players retired to the clubhouse bar to enjoy the fantastic hospitality laid on by our hosts. The players and members of Donegal made sure that following some good food, some questionable cocktails and some classic clubhouse past times, the long journey down was worth making, and the long journey home went a lot more quickly, and was a lot more entertaining.

We thank Donegal for their hospitality on Saturday, it was a throwback to the days when those of a slightly older generation remembered playing a match and mixing with the opposition in the bar afterwards, regardless of the result.

The Instonians squad did themselves and the club proud on Saturday both on and off the pitch and hopefully with both teams competing in the same league next season, we will welcome Donegal to Shawsbridge, to return their hospitality.

Like most of Saturday’s events our referee was ‘old school’, he did a great job managing the game and the conditions, and had an ability to communicate with the players on their level to keep the game flowing. It is also not too often that we see our referees in the clubhouse after games, and it was good to see Saturday’s ref in the bar mixing with the players and enjoying the banter.

A special mention has to go to our current President, our Vice President and our Junior Vice President who were all in attendance on Saturday. Thanks to David, Ken and Robin for making the trip, its much appreciated by the squad.

Finally, we wish Donegal’s injured player a speedy recovery and hope that he gets back to playing in the very near future.

Saturday’s Squad 1 to 18: Peadair Meenan (C), Omar Bouazza, Richard Fannin, , Ryan Hickland, Pete Bradley, Nathanial Johnston, Joe Fryers, Rab Brown, Finlay Bodel, Ashley Black, Joe Murphy, Robbie Kirk, Sam Fryers, Johan Markarian, Fraser Wright, Scott Croft, Kevin McKee, Lewis Bodel.