This is a one time deal so hopefully I can do it justice…
On the 3rd October Bhsfp Rfc had the arduous task of travelling to Monaghan to compete in the league. After a long drive down we arrived on mass, and were out early for a prematch team run. The mood was good and confident given the standard of players in the huddle.
High School kick off, and compete for ball. After being knocked on, the game restarts with a scrum but High School get penalised for some forward nonsense that I dont understand. Monaghan punish us with a good kick to the corner but we repel their efforts in the line out with Jack Balmer and Bryan Mcgreal constantly a thorn in the Monaghan pack. After some strong defence High School are penalised at the ruck for hands in just outside High Schools 22. The Monaghan 10, punished the infringement and sets the marker for where penalties given will be kicked from. From the restart, Jordan Frampton hits a beautiful drop out that we can really attack. We do with Alex Noble challenging and scraping for everything all day, a true warrior. High School penalised again for some reason and Monaghan push us back into our own 22 again. Felt like ground hog day….
High School win the line out this time but only manage to secure scrappy ball, and the ball is passed out to Jake who is put under serious pressure by the Monaghan back row. He magically escapes, skirts around our 12 and tries to clear. But alas, High School are penalised again from the line out. The ball goes to the Monaghan 10 who duly adds the 3 points. High School, who had at this stage had only been in Monaghan’s half after the kick off, only had themselves to blame for their indiscipline and contempt for the referee.
Another great kick off by Jordy sees High School again attack the ball with purpose. But again High School are penalised and Alan Charters is sinbinned and forced back to just outside their 22 from the resulting kick.
With 14 men we struggled and conceded a converted try under the pressure.
Monaghan men smelt blood and their 10 pushed us back toward our line with some good kicking. The HS lineout again competed and won the ball with Gareth Adams clearing up the mess at the back. Unable to kick directly out, Jake uses his seige cannon to clear as far as the eye can see. The Monaghan FB gathers the ball and passes to his large winger (think Shane Horgan, not Jonah Lomu). The winger accelerates into the tackle but is stopped in this tracks by the HS defence. Some good recycling and Monaghan are back on the attack.
This time the referee penalises them for hands in the ruck. HS first penalty of the game!!! HS kick for the corner but narrowly miss. Monaghan clear their lines but only as far as Adam Reid who gathers on the full. He passes into Jordy who makes great ground. His pass to Ryan Elliot allows us to make even more yardage through his strong running. Monaghan penalised again and Jordy puts the ball between the Monaghan 10 yard line and 22, shenanigans at the line out see HS come away with scrappy ball that is knocked forward in the middle of the park at ruck time. The scrum to Monaghan sees their backs division try and bulldoze their way through the 12 channel on the left hand side of the pitch. This didnt happen and HS turn over the ball. Great service from Willy who had been beavering away at the ruck, saw a long pass to Jake who had seen acres of space on the right side of the pitch. Jake, put Ryan into space, who in turn put Jordy into space. With plenty still to do, Jordy passes to Matty Connolly, whose pace is frightnening!! 2 men still to beat, Connolly shows them the outside, but cuts back between the defenders and barges through to score a memorable try. We prove to ourselves that when we cut out the penalties and retain the ball, we can cut this team apart out wide!!
HS receives the KO and, back to our full compliment of players, we start to regain parity in game. Ending up at the right side of the pitch in the Monaghan 22 after a penalty, we opt for the shortened version of the line out. Bungie hits a great line and is stopped metres short. With half of the Monaghan team lying under Bungs, Jack Balmer, first man to the ball, throws a quick pass to Jake, who distributes beautifully to me, a half dummy draws 2 Monaghan men and an over the top pass to Ryan, see him one on one. With his strength he barges through the man, who doesnt stand a chance in stopping him.
Coming up to the end of the half, Monaghan start to exert more pressure, and a missed tackle by me sees their 12 one on one with Jordy. He doesnt stand a chance!! Jordy forced him to make a decision and he choose the wrong one. Jordy buries him!! The damage was done though, and Monaghan, now behind us, played quick ball and with number lacking in the open, saw Monaghan scoring under the posts in a good team try.
After kick off we gave away more silly penalties, but this had no impact on the game and it blown up for half time.
Reece and Alex were not happy!!!! The HS indiscipline and back chat was killing us. And the only people who could sort it was ourselves. We needed a big start to the 2nd half and to reduce the penalties to stand a chance of winning.
We start the 2nd half by receiving the KO deep in our 22. Adam Reid catches the ball on the full, retains it with help from Steven Drennan, who was never far from the action. Monaghan are penalised for skulldugery. Jordy puts the ball down the line and we win the line out at the rear. Great unseen work from Alan Charters and Nigel Cludlow secure the ball 20 metres in. Jakes quick thinking see space down the blind and ghosts between 2 forwards. Great support lines for Willy and Jordy saw a 3 on one. A lost of concentration saw the ball dropped with the line begging. The truth was that we had the Monaghan men on the ropes. We continued to put pressure on in the right areas of the pitch, with Alister Best battering the Monaghan line. This continued assault and outstanding ball retention by the fowards saw gaps open. Gareth Adams gave an SBWeske one handed offload to Jake and he scored a great efforrt in the corner.
We had lost a player in the previous play, so it would be up to these 14 men to stand tall. Only 6 points down and in the assendency, HS were pushing hard.With the forwards working like a unit and giving the backs good ball, Connolly used his incredible speed to score another cracking try. Willy converted but Matty hamstring had gone and he looked in serious trouble. Down to 13 men HS were up against it with still 15 minutes on the clock.
We did not buckle, we did not bend. HS defended resolutely to the end, even with 13 men. But in the last monments of the game, we conceded a very kickable penalty. The Monaghan 10 cooly kicked the point to break HS hearts! If only we had played with the discipline and edge we had in the second half in the first, we would have, could have, should have won!! Lessons to be learned, but that said, the heart and soul given by the players with a “weakened” squad was inspiring!!
Big thank you to the men who stepped up to help their club out! You know who you are!
This is a one time deal so hopefully I can do it justice…