UUJ 1st XV move to Third Place in All Ireland Div 2 with Bonus Point Win
Athlone travelled to the Jordanstown Campus to play “New Boys” Jtown on Wednesday past for the first home Senior League game for young Jtown students.
UUJ lost their talented out-half Josh McIlroy with a injured hamstring in the warm up but winger Nathaniel Steele stepped up to the plate and took over the duties of the 10.
The game started well for both sides and some great rugby was on display but it was not long before spectators could see the defence patterns of the home side were going to have a massive input into this All Ireland game. Athlone kept possession for large periods of time but could not break through the organised defence forcing a turn over on the 9th minute of the game, great handling by Jtown saw them retain possession through various moves and an infringement by the visitors saw UUJ scrum half Ross Bryans slot the ball between the posts for the opening 3 points, 3 – 0.
UUJ dominated the lineouts and scrums and on 17 mins their pack pushed Athlone off their own scrum about fifteen metres out from their line and the ever alert Bryans picked the ball from the feet of number 8 Stewart Martin and forced his way trough the defence to score an unconverted try, 8 -0.
On the 23 minute mark Athlone were forced to give a penalty away 10 metres off their line, Jtowns 6, Jonny Lees tapped and went for the line and shrugged of 3 tacklers to score in the corner but unfortunately the referee felt the ball had been knocked on in the scoring and the try was disallowed. This had been an unfortunate incident as Lees had landed hard on his right shoulder and soon had to leave the field with a suspected broken Sternum.
UUJ found themselves back in the same position of the pitch 2 minutes later when great handling by Bryans and Martin saw the supporting and alert tight head prop, Troy Wilson take a short pass from Martin off the ground to dive over the top of the collapsed ruck and score a great try, converted by Bryans, 15 – 0.
Athlone defended well for the rest of the half but again an infringement at the collision area by them in their eagerness to get points on the board saw Bryans kick another 3 points, 18 – 0.
Athlone’s halftime chat saw them up their game and put massive pressure on the home sides defence, the visitors also used their backline more efficiently realising the strength of the home side pack, but UUJ’s defending worked well for them and Athlone could not convert their possession into any points.
On the 57th minute of the game from deep in their own half, Bryans chipped over the head of the Athlone backline and caught his own ball before offloading to the supporting fullback, Eddie Kosch who worked his way through the chasing defence to score at the posts, converted by Bryans, 25 – 0.
After the restart Athlone’s athletic right wing broke out from his own try line, he jinked his way through UUJ’s scattered defence line but left winger, David McClelland powered his way back up the pitch and made a massive try stopping tackle on the Athlone player metres from the home side line, the returning home defence secured the ball and ran back into play.
On the 79th minute and while defending close to thier own line UUJ knew they had to keep the ball alive to secure an important try bonus point win, their number 4, Ronan McCusker turned over Athlone ball and made his dash some 75 metres up the pitch, he drew the Athlone fullback and passed to his supporting centre Evan Burke who broke a couple of tackles to score at the posts, converted by Bryans making it a 32 – 0 score at full time.
Another great UUJ game to have watched and this bonus point win will have taken them to third place in Division 2.
1. Ross Harkin (c) City of Derry
2. Stevie Weir Belfast Harlequins
3. Troy Wilson Academy
4. Ronan McCusker Rainey Old Boys
5. Tinus Smit Bangor
6. Jonny Lees Rainey Old Boys
7, Mark Brolly Tullanure
8. Stewart Martin Queens
9. Ross Bryans Academy
10. Nathaniel Steele Ballymoney
11 David McClelland Rainey Old Boys
12. Robert Gacek Portadown
13. Evan Burke Navan
14. Thomas Knight Ballymoney
15. Eddie Kosch Ballymena
16. Samuel Hicks Clogher Vally
17. Jamie Forsythe Ballymena
Injured in Warm up. Josh McIlroy Rainey Old Boys