Athy v Clane 23/11/2014

23rd November 2014

Leinster League Div 2B

Clane 8 Athy 6

By Mark Bergin

In previous years Clane has not been a happy hunting ground for Athy and so it proved again in this Leinster League fixture when they failed follow up on their comprehensive win over the same opposition at home a few weeks ago.  This was a poor match littered with errors and characterised by a stop start routine that prevented any decent rhythm of play throughout.

In the early stages of the game Athy seemed the more assured team looking to find gaps in the Clane defence but Clane were clearly determined to disrupt and defend any Athy attack.  Despite this Athy advanced into the Clane half when a knock on at 5 min gave Clane the put in just outside their own 22.  A great push by the Athy pack saw Clane scrambling to secure the ball at the back of teh scrum and strong follow up pressure by Craig Hussey won Athy the penalty.  The straightforward kick was converted by James Quinlan.  Athy failed to capitalise on this first score allowing Clane to take the game deep into Athy’s half and increasingly force errors from Athy.  Athy conceded a penalty on 8 min for a ruck infringement inside their own 22 and this was the start of a sustained period of pressure from Clane attacking the Athy line.  Twice coming to the end of the first quarter Clane were held up over the Athy line but to their credit Athy’s defence was solid and eventually they forced Clane back up field.

Athy were not helped in general by their set piece play in the first half which was at best inconsistent, losing a number of their own line outs and allowing Clane to disrupt their scrum.  Clane also managed to slow down ruck ball regularly much to Athy’s frustration and as a result they were not able to put together any decent phase play which might have allowed them to mount a meaningful attack.  Play in general in the second quarter moved between the two 22’s with neither team really gaining the upper hand until the 33rd min when Athy won a penalty just outside the Clane 22 for illegal entry into the ruck by Clane.  Athy opted to kick for a lineout when perhaps a shot at goal might have been the better option given the inconsistency of set piece play up to this.  Clane managed to defend the lineout successfully and with that went Athy’s last opportunity of the first half to add to their score.

Athy won the kick off at the beginning of the second half but almost immediately were penalised for holding.  Instead of Athy moving on from a mediocre first half display, as might have been expected by the visiting support, Athy started where they finished the first half allowing Clane to dictate the game on the ground and preventing any worthwhile Athy possession.  Indeed it was Clane who began to sense that the game was swinging in their favour and brought play deep into the Athy half.  Having brought play to within 5m of the Athy line Clane won a scrum towards the right of the field.  Despite a good shove from Athy at the put in Clane managed to get the ball away from the scrum and attacked the Athy line left and right until eventually crossing over for a well taken try by their number 7 on 43 min.  The conversion was missed leaving the score at 5 – 3 in Clane’s favour.

Unfortunately the game deteriorated after this with the exchanges becoming somewhat more physical  At 50 min a stamp on an Athy player at the bottom of a ruck and the following exchange between the players resulted in two yellow cards being issued, one each to Clane and Athy.  After this incident ironically the Athy scrum improved and for the first time in the match they appeared to be able to assert some control on the game winning a series of scrums and putting Clane under a lot of pressure at their put in.  On 52 min Clane won their scrum outside of their 22 but excellent pressure from scrum half Clive Kavanagh and flanker Mark Beever won a penalty for holding.  The penalty was converted by James Quinlan and Athy were now back in front by the narrowest of margins, 5 – 6.  Clane upped their game again and won a penalty within range on 54 min which they converted putting them ahead again 8 – 6.

Despite having the greater share of possession in the final quarter Athy created very few opportunities to score with their only real chance being a penalty on 58 min which was just wide of the posts.  Clane were determined to contain them by whatever means necessary and saw two of their players sin binned in the last 10 minutes for persistent ruck infringements.  Athy eventually ran out of time and the score finished 8 – 6 in Clane’s favour.

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