Old Crescent Rugby I XV 7 v Belfast Harlequins Rugby I XV 14: Well done Quins 0 Click Here For Report & Pictures

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Old Crescent 7
Belfast Harlequins 14

(Heaney 3p, Gillespie 1t)

Quins arrived at Rosbrien for the re-arranged AIL match, and saw the pitch in exceptionally good condition, considering the previous day’s snow-laden blizzards.
On paper, Quins put out their strongest team so far this season. Neil McCombe and Niall O’Connor made rare appearances, while Quins were also delighted to see Michael Heaney, Michael Allen and Niall Annett starting. Another bonus was the reappearance, on the bench and team respectively, of Miles O’Hagan and Andrew Gillespie.

Quins played against a significant wind in the first half and early conditions were chilling, but dry. Crescent started off at a gallop, and dominated the first 10 minutes, with Quins finding possession a rare commodity. However no score resulted, and Quins then produced a period of even greater domination for the next 20 minutes and a try seemed to be a inevitable consequence. However, courageous defence, and Quins tactical errors saw the only reward being a Michael Heaney penalty after 30 minutes to go, putting Quins ahead 3-0 – albeit a poor reward for their dominance.
However, the weather deteriorated to non-stop rain, and after a flurry of forward movements and good back support by Crescent, the Quins defence were unable to stop a mauling try to the right of the posts. The conversion put Crescent 7 -3 and despite further pressure by Quins, half time arrived with Crescent ahead .

CLICK HERE for 14 well captured shots of the guys in action

The second half started with Quins again dominant, but only bringing the single reward of a well struck penalty, again from Michael Heaney. Crescent 7 – Quins 6.
The loyal Quins supporters were not unhappy at this stage, however, as weather conditions had improved again and the wind was behind them. With 15 minutes gone, the Quins pack, after a plethora of attempts, drove over in the left hand corner. The scorer was the returning captain Andrew Gillespie, who after the match, with unusual modestly stated — ‘ well somebody had to get it !!’
Although Michael Heaney was narrowly unable to convert, Quins were ahead 11-6 and appeared in control. However, with the weather conditions deteriorating, the large Crescent pack yet again returned to the attack. They turned down a number of penalty opportunities in an effort to get the necessary try, and with only 10 minutes of normal time to go, a further penalty near the half-way line was kicked to touch on the Quins 5 metre line. Quins faced the probability of a short Crescent drive to their line. Thus, the resulting crooked throw in by Crescent, may have been the turning point of the match. Quins safely won the ensuing scrum and the ball was put in touch up towards the Crescent half. But then, further bad news – Ali Heatley, who was making a major contribution up-front, was yellow carded. (strange, as Quins were attacking well inside the Crescent 22 at the time, and, as the referee had appeared to be about to yellow card the Crescent second row just minutes earlier.) Despite this further reminder of the possibility of defeat, instead of tightening up the match and judiciouly safeguarding their lead — and the vital possession, loose kicking gave away the ball to a number of Crescent rear-guard attacks from deep. However, the depleted Quins pack held out and after almost 5 minutes of stoppage time, a final penalty stroked over by Michael Heaney wrapped up the points; the final whistle blew. to record a Quins AIL away win Old Crescent 7 – Quins 14.

This was a good victory for Quins. While the elements did not support their style, they coped most effectively. The back-line attempted to pressurise Crescent despite the intermittent rain, and their handling was exceptional. Our scrums were a major benefit and line-outs were shared against a large well-motivated pack.
This was a strange game in that both sides had periods of complete ownership of the ball, and then let the other side have their turn!

Miles O’Hagan came on at full-back in the 2nd half, with Mark Kettyle moving to the centre for Willie Stewart; Ian Mathew replaced the hard working Mark McGrath ; David Creighton came onto the wing for Roger Kirkwood. ( when David was interviewed after the match regarding his insight on the performance, his fine analytical footballing brain added to our understanding of the finer tactical issues, when he commented ‘ It was freezing, I couldn’t feel my b….. fingers!)

Team: Mark Kettyle, Matt Holmes, Willie Stewart, Michael Allen, Roger Kirkwood, Niall O’Connor, Michael Heaney, Mark McGrath, Niall Annett, Robert Logan, Neil McCombe, Gareth Rourke, Ali Scott, Ali Heatley, Andrew Gillespie (capt).
Bench : Miles O’Hagan, David Creighton, Ian Mathew, Calum Leckie, Stewart Leckey

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