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Athy v Clane 18/01/2015

Leinster League Div 2B


Athy      25           Clane    0


By Mark Bergin


Athy were looking to make amends for their frustrating loss to Clane the last time these two sides met in the league and they did not disappoint their supporters, winning the game comfortably and bagging a winning bonus point in the process.  Athy kicked off and from the beginning enjoyed the bulk of possession and territory.  In the first five minutes they had a number of opportunities to open the scoring having brought play close to the Clane line but came up short by conceding soft turnovers at critical moments, allowing Clane to clear their lines.  Indeed this was the pattern for much of the first quarter and although Athy were very much the dominant team they struggled at times with their ball retention or completion of passes.


The home side began to put together better phase play by the start of the start of the 2nd quarter and the continuity of their attacking play improved.  Clane conceded a penalty on 23 minutes which Athy kicked for the corner.  A clean take by Wes Whitten in the following line out set up an excellent maul with Whitten touching down for the opening score.  The difficult conversion was missed by Mark Beever.  Five minutes later some excellent phase play from the halfway by Athy brought them deep into the Clane 22 when Clane conceded a penalty in front of the posts for offside.  This time Beever made sure of the conversion to push Athy 8 – 0 ahead.  In the final ten minutes of the half Athy’s dominance of possession saw some good breaks by Wes Whitten, Clive Kavanagh and Joey Deegan, opening up the Clane defence, but as in the early stages of the game Athy were not able to capitalise on this due to erratic handling when a score seemed sure.

Three minutes into the second half a diagonal kick to the corner by outhalf Alan Talbot followed up by James Quinlan and Cathal Fennessy had the visitors in disarray.  Clane attempted to clear their lines but the kick did not make touch and Athy brought the ball back to the Clane line through good phase play.  The visitor defence was stretched at this point and wing forward Aodhan King broke through for an excellent try.  The conversion was put over by Mark Beever and Athy’s lead moved to 15 – 0.  On 52 minutes Athy kicked a penalty into the corner to set up an attacking line out 5m out.  The ball was taken cleanly by Wes Whitten when Athy noted that Clane had not contested the line out to prevent an attacking maul being set up.  Whitten then turned and pushed straight through the Clane tacklers to touch down for Athy’s 3rd try which, unconverted, now put Athy 20 – 0 ahead.


In the opening period of the match Athy’s scrum had taken a while to settle but in the second half this part of their set piece play was very solid and won them a ball against the head at 61 minutes on the halfway line.  The resulting possession led to a break through the Clane line by Alan Talbot who made ground into the Clane 22 but the play stopped just short of the line.  Despite arriving in numbers Athy were not able to get over and were held up by Clane who relived the pressure through a 5m scrum.  Play continued in this part of the pitch and the pressure was beginning to tell on Clane when they lost a player to a yellow card two minutes later.  As in the first half the lack of clinical handling by Athy meant that they could not get the bonus point score and in fact it was Clane who pushed back up the field between the 65th and 70th minute, winning a number of penalties as Athy momentarily lost their composure.


At the 70 minute mark Athy won a line out inside their own half and set up a maul from which scrum half Owen Farrell peeled off and moved the ball to oncoming Athy players Aodhan King and Alan Talbot behind the gain line.  The home side were now at the Clane line again looking for the bonus score try but were eventually held up by Clane.  From behind the 74thminute 5m scrum Clane attempted to clear the ball but as before it was fielded by Athy whose backs brought play quickly back to the line and the Athy pack arrived in numbers to support.  Quick ball recycling and aggressive rucking by the Athy pack resulted in Clive Kavanagh crossing the line to secure the winning bonus point.  The try was uncoverted but Athy were now firmly in control with a 25 – 0 lead going into the last five minutes.  The home side were not able to add their score during this period but overall they will have been very happy to have taken maximum points from this game.  The final score of 25 – 0 could well have been a larger winning margin for Athy had they been able to close out a number of promising attacking positions during the match which would have reflected more accurately their dominance of possession and territory.


Athy: Joe Deegan, Alan Harding, Brian Berry, Wes Whitten, Nigel Holland, Clive Kavanagh, Aodhan King, Stu Holland, Eoin Farrell, Alan Talbot, Davey Walsh, Mark Beaver, Gavin Kelly, Tommy Mulreid, Paul Waters. Subs: Dave Curtis, Jimmy Quinlan, Conor Martin, Cathal Fennessey, Brian Meredith.

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