Cill Dara 20 Tullamore 14
Leinster League div 1a, 5/1/13
Let me set the scene, early January fixture, Runaway leaders arrive to demolish the second from bottom, on a mild winters night with the pitch in great condition. Earlier in the day, Newbridge and Enniscorthy had played out a 10 – 10 draw, thus giving Tullamore an opportunity to open a 13 point gap with a win, or a 14 point gap should they get the bonus point. It would also have left Tullamore needing just 7 more points at the most from their remaining 4 games, which includes a trip to the very out of sorts Garda (where everybody is picking up 5 points). Cill Dara arrive with not a lot to play for other than pride and preperation for the Towns Cup, and probably a play off match to avoid relagation. They are 17 points behind 6th in the league, with 5 games remaining, including this match against the Leaders, and an away fixture against the in form Wanderers. However, Tullamore are overconfident, Cill Dara are fired up and the ref is nervous.
The game started favourabley for Tullamore as they carried well and made some good forays into Cill Dara’s 22. Their indispline cost them though, as they gave away a penalty 2 metres from the Try line, when in control of a ruck for going off their feet. Tullamore missed a straight forward penalty from in front of the posts, on the 22. They also butcherd another opportunity when they had an overlap of 2 v 1 with a lot of space, when the last pass, was high and the winger failed to collect. Tullamore did score a try from a 5m lineout with their hooker getting the touchdown, the conversion was missed. You might have expected Tullamore to steam on from here, but it was Cill Dara, who upped the tempo, and took control of the game. This was helped by a Tullamore Red Card after 22 min. Cill Dara were exerting pressure and their no8 made some good ground from the back of the scrum. Their effort paid dividends as they got 2 penalties to go in at half time with a 6-5 lead.
Tullamore have not been winning games by luck this far into the league, and they showed their mettle in the second half. They played most of the 2nd half with the ball and in Cill Dara’s side of the pitch. They were dominating the lineouts and shading the scrums. Their indisipline cost them though, as they were penalised on several occasions when 5m or less from the Cill Dara try line. They did take the lead after about 10 min, with a penalty, to go 8-6 up. Cill Dara defended superbly, as they didn’t give the tullamore backs any space to open up, and line breaks were quickly recovered. They then took advantage of a tullamore error, and ran the ball from well inside their own half, and with good interlinking in open play, they scored a try under the posts to regain the lead 13 – 8. Tullamore dug deep and again started to exert some pressure, but all they had to show for it was another pen, which left them trailing 13-11, with 13 min left. That pressure again paid dividends, when Tullamore took the lead with a penalty with 5 min left 14-13. This is where Cill Dara deserve huge credit. They hung in and when Tullamore had missed another penalty and a drop goal attempt, they were in position to pounce. Around the 80 min mark, Tullamore dropped a ball on the Cill Dara 22, The home team hacked it forward, and put up an excellent chase, Tullamore just about won the race to ball, but ended up kicking it behind their own try line to conceed a 5 metre scrum. From the scrum a series of penalties ensued, with the referee eventually losing patience and giving a penalty try. The final whistle sounded after the successful conversion, and was greeted by scenes of jubilation by Cill Dara and a scoreline of 20-14.
What a game this was, physical, skilfull, exciting, entertaining,and nail biting.The show of emotions both excileration and dejection after the game, show what it means to win or lose a tight contest.
The questions I take away from this game are;
1. Did Cill Dara not trust their kicker, to win the game with their first penalty from the scrum?
2. Why is it, that when teams have a scrum 5 meters out, they become so dominant? I see this regularly, where scrums that are evenly matched at almost any other part of the pitch, tend to be dominated by the attacking team.
3. How big an impact was the red card? Tullamore still had enough posession and territory to win the game.
What I learned from the game;
1. This league is hugely competitive. This game proves that the difference between top and 2nd from bottom is not huge. This was not a poor performance from Tullamore, nor was it an under strength team. For sure, Tullamore didn’t play aswell as they did in some of their other games, but that shouldn’t take away from Cill Dara’s win.
2. Place kicks are so important. Tullamore left 8 points behind them on the pitch. Cill Dara could have won the game without taking the risk of 5 scrums.
3. The clubhouse in Cill Dara was warm and inviting, it’s a pity there wasn’t more of the home support in there afterwards.
4. The Towns Cup is a lot more open than many people think. Cup rugby is about attitude on the day, and upsets are regular. I cant wait!
Tullamore have only lost two games this season, both of them away from home, and both of them in injury time. They’re still the class team in Leinster junior rugby, you can’t argue with the league table. This win will give great confidence to Cill Dara, who’ve lost a number of tight games this season. On this evidence it’s difficult to see the 2nd placed team in 1 b winning the play off, but as said earlier, it’s all about attitude on the day.