Naas RFC

Founded 1922

Co. Kildare

Match Report - Naas V Buccaneers Sat 10th Dec 2022

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Naas 24 – Buccaneers 21

On a weekend that saw the sporting fixture list ravaged by the weather, the determination of the Naas coaching staff to get the game played against Buccaneers was rewarded by a marvellous display and victory. Getting this game on necessitated moving it to the all-weather pitch in Tullow, and it was a gamble that paid off handsomely, as they inflicted just the second defeat of the season on Buccaneers.

Firstly, many thanks must go to Tullow RFC for facilitating the playing of this game, and the facilities and hospitality provided were first class.

Naas started on the front foot and were rewarded within eight minutes when Buccaneers were penalised for tackling a player off the ball. Sam Cahill slotted the penalty to give Naas a three point lead.

The ‘home side’ dominated both territory and possession for the next quarter of an hour but were unable to add to their tally, and they were rocked by a concession of a try after 25 minutes. A well worked line-out move by Buccaneers, saw their hooker Stephen Lombard take the ball around the front, before being hauled down just a couple of meters short of the try line. A series of pick and drives by the Bucs forwards followed, before Cian McCann dived over from close range. Michael Hanley added the conversion.

But undeterred Naas went back on the attack, and by the half-time whistle had built up a decent lead. On 33 minutes great carries by Jack Coyle and Will O’Brien brought play into the Buccaneers 22. The ball was then quickly moved left into midfield, where Charlie Sheridan sidestepped a tackle before racing clear for a fine try. Sam Cahill added the conversion to put Naas back in front by 10-7.

Buccaneers were being forced into desperate defence and on 38 and 40 minutes were penalised for holding on. Sam Cahill ruthlessly punished them for these indiscretions by successfully kicking both penalties, to leave Naas in front by 16-7 when referee Andrew Fogarty blew the half-time whistle.

Buccaneers are not league leaders for nothing and they roared back into contention in the second-half. A series of penalties conceded by Naas led to Eoin Walsh picking up a yellow card. For this latest penalty Bucs elected to take a scrum, and following a powerful surge by their pack Cian McCann dived over. However great credit must go to the Naas defence as they managed to hold him up, winning a drop out into the process.

But the Bucs did manage to reduce the margin on 49 minutes. Another penalty conceded by Naas led to a five-yard line-out and from this Bucs set up a driving maul. Naas did well to contain this, but when it was stopped Sean O’Connell managed to crash over from close range. The conversion by Michael Hanley reduced the Naas lead to 16-14.

For the next ten minutes Naas weathered a storm by showing tremendous heart and courage to repel a wave of Buccaneers attacks, and then after 59 minutes they struck for a superb score of their own. From a line-out take by Paul Monahan on the ten-metre line, a series of powerful surges by the pack brought play into the Bucs 22. The ball was then quickly moved right out to Donal Conroy who showed great strength to get in at the corner. Although the conversion was missed by Craig Ronaldson the Naas lead was extended to 21-14.

The action on the pitch was certainly warming up the spectators who braved the elements, and they were treated to a heart stopping closing quarter. On 68 minutes Buccaneers again opted to use their driving maul which Naas again managed to stop. However, a series of powerful drives by their forwards sucked in the Naas defence, and when Bucs opted to go wide there was simply no cover left to stop Josh O’Connor strolling in for a try. The conversion by Michael Hanley levelled matters at 21 points each.

The victory was there for both sides to snatch and Buccaneers thought they were going into the lead on 71 minutes when their winger Josh O’Connor looked sure to score in the right corner, after showing tremendous pace up the wing. However, he did not count on Donal Conroy who, covering from the opposite wing, buried his opponent into touch with a superb try saving tackle.

But from there to the finish it was all Naas. They stormed back on the attack and Buccaneers were put to the pin of their collar to stop them. Indeed not all of their defence was legal and this led to both Cian McCann and Ciaran Booth receiving yellow cards in the closing stages.

Naas had the chance to win it after 76 minutes when Craig Ronaldson was narrowly wide with a penalty attempt. However, he was to get one more chance and this time he made no mistake. In the final play of the game Oscar Cawley took a quick tap penalty and was soon hauled down by the Buccaneers defence. As they had not retreated 10 metres another penalty was awarded, and under extreme pressure, up stepped Ronaldson to land the kick. Referee Andrew Fogarty blew the full-time whistle immediately afterwards and the spoils had gone to Naas on a 24-21 scoreline.

A super victory for Naas and a great way to round off 2022 for them. They showed great initiative in getting this game on, and were rewarded with a tremendous team performance that lowered the colours of the league leaders. Naas now have a break until January 14th when the return fixture with Buccaneers will be played in Dubarry Park, Athlone.

Naas: Fionn Higgins, Donal Conroy, Charlie Sheridan, Henry Smith, Sam Cahill, Bryan Croke, Oscar Cawley, Jack Barry, Tadgh Dooley, Adam Coyle, Paul Monahan (capt), Patrick O’Flaherty, Mark Dennis, Will O’Brien, Eoin Walsh.

Replacements: Nato Kiripati, Jack Coyle, David Benn, Cillian Dempsey, Craig Ronaldson, Matt Stapleton.

Buccaneers: Michael Hanley, Josh O’Connor, Shane Layden, Stephen Mannion, Saul O’Carroll, Harry West, William Kelly, James Kelly, Stephen Lombard, Darren Browne, Ruairi Byrne, Danny Quarter, Sean O’Connell, Cian McCann, Ciaran Booth (capt).

Replacements: Oisin Dolan, Cedric Fokam, Fionn McDonald, Rory O’Connor, Tom Shine, Orrin Burgess.

Referee: Andrew Fogarty.

Photos: © Naas Rugby Photos

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