Newry Rugby I XV Secure Second Place In The League: Promotion Winning Side, Rhys Botha Comments

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It’s not that long ago that a trip to Virginia was an intimidating prospect for any Newry rugby team. Things have changed in recent years as not only have the roads been improved beyond all recognition so that a two day camel trek is no longer required but also the recent improvements in the City mens’ form has opened a performance gap between the two friendly, south Ulster rivals. Their visit there last Saturday confirmed this with a comprehensive win being claimed by the Newry visitors.

On a warm, sunny, spring day Newry made the trip minus several of their first team regulars and they fully expected a stern test from a very physical Virginia pack. The match started with early pressure on the Virginia line culminating in a scrum and a back row move straight of the training paddock which ended with a Peter Jenkins try under the posts which was easily converted by scrum-half Donal Farrell. The restart gave no relief to Virginia as soon afterwards an explosive break by man of the match, centre, Paddy Wentworth saw him go over in the corner to take the score to 12-nil. As the game progressed and a steady supply of ball was supplied by out-half Rhys Botha the centre pairing of Wentworth and Jenkins really clicked and they started to torment the opposition line with aggressive strike running and high speed line breaks. However not all the glory went to the backs as on the 30 minute mark flanker and captain, Connor Marshall burst through several tackles for try number 3, which was duly converted by Farrell to take the score to 19-nil. The last word in the half went to Paddy Wentworth who touched down for his second try of the day, which was converted to take the half time score to 26-nil in favour of Newry.

The third quarter saw Newry reduced to 14 men for a time when debutant prop John “Hardman” Collins was yellow carded for some over-enthusiastic tackling. This gave some respite to his opposite number and slowed Newry’s progress for a while. However normal service was soon resumed when after a series of forward “pick and goes” quick ball was shovelled out to Peter Jenkins who fired a long 30 metre “miss-pass” out to birthday boy Marty Cunningham who barrelled his way over the line for try number 5. Virginia responded with a try of their own but the final word went to Newry when a switch move between Farrell and James Warren sent the big Kiwi over under the posts for converted try number 6. Final score, Newry 38 – Virginia 5.

Speaking afterwards coach Rhys Botha expressed his delight with the result and with the performance of those players who had stepped up from the Newry Second XV. “We are now planning for next season and it is very pleasing to see the strength in depth we now have in the club.” Special mention must go to Moygannon man, John Collins who started the season fighting for his place on Newry Thirds and is finishing it playing prop for the most successful First team fielded by Newry in living memory.

Newry: D Marshall, M Cunningham, P Jenkins, P Wentworth, A Fisher, R Botha, D Farrell, J Collins, C Stewart, N Robertson, G Toal, R Gordon, S Farrell, C Marshall, J Warren.

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