Naas RFC

Founded 1922

Co. Kildare

Match Report - Naas V Banbridge Jan 28th 2023

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Naas 47 – Banbridge 34

Photos: Naas Rugby Photos

Naas took out their frustration of losing to Armagh in their previous Energia All-Ireland League Division 1B fixture, by dismantling Banbridge at home last Saturday afternoon. Straight from the kick-off there was precision, power and pace in the Naas play which left their Northern rivals completely bewildered, and a 13 point winning margin does not accurately reflect the complete dominance of the home side on this occasion.

The large attendance was regally entertained with no less than 81 points scored over the course of the game, and by the seventh minute Naas had amassed 14 of these. They tore into Banbridge straight from the start and within four minutes they had the opening score. With powerful carries, Will O’Brien and Conor Doyle punched holes in the Banbridge defence taking play close to the line, before Ryan Casey powered over from close range. Then after seven minutes Will O’Brien did well to win a Banbridge line-out, the ball was quickly moved into midfield, and there was no stopping Cillian Dempsey who showed great strength to crash through a couple of tackles to score. Craig Ronaldson converted both tries.

Soon afterwards the referee Kieran Barry earned the ire of the Naas supporters when he brandished a yellow card to Cillian Dempsey for handling in a ruck. This was an extremely harsh decision and Banbridge made the most of the opportunity presented. They turned down a shot at goal and went to touch, and from a line-out they set up a driving maul which Naas hauled down, giving the Northern side another penalty. Again they opted to go to touch and set up a driving maul, and when this was again brought down by Naas, the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try, which reduced the lead to 14-7.

Naas stormed back onto the attack and missed chances to increase their lead. Firstly after 20 minutes Craig Ronaldson was narrowly wide with a penalty attempt, and then two minutes later a superb break by Jack Sheridan almost led to another Naas try, but the final pass just failed to go to hand. Referee Barry again intervened on 26 minutes when he deemed a tackle by Ryan Casey to be high, and for the second time in the match he reached into his pocket to show a yellow card. James Humphreys made no mistake with the resulting penalty, making the score 14-10 in favour of Naas.

But Naas finished the half strongly. After 36 minutes a super long cut out pass by Matt Stapleton found Charlie Sheridan out wide left. The latter advanced play up to the ten-metre line before putting in a deft chip over the Banbridge cover, and just won the chase for the loose ball to touchdown for a superb try. Craig Ronaldson added the conversion to leave the score at break 21-10 to Naas.

Within two minutes of the restart Naas were further in front. Some great handling and offloads cut the Banbridge defence apart, creating space on the left wing for Matt Stapleton. When he was stopped he passed inside to Charlie Sheridan who finished off the move in style, giving Naas a try bonus scoring point into the bargain. Although the conversion was missed it was a dream start to the half for Naas.

The home side then scored another try after 51 minutes that was worth the admission price alone. From a line-out win on half-way, the ball was moved to out-half Bryan Croke whose lovely inside pass to Jack Sheridan completely flummoxed the Banbridge defence. The latter took play up to the 22, before returning the ball to Croke who scored under the posts. The successful conversion by Craig Ronaldson put Naas 33-10 in front.

The game now looked all over, but credit to Banbridge they were determined to make a fight of it. After 57 minutes they set up a driving maul before transferring the ball into midfield to Josh Cromie who powered over from close range, and just two minutes later following another driving maul Peter Cromie crashed over for another try. With James Humphreys converting both scores suddenly the Naas lead had been reduced to 33-24, and there was a sense of anxiety among the Naas supporters around the ground.

But any fears of Banbridge clinching a dramatic victory were soon extinguished. After 67 minutes following a line-out win the visitors attempted to move the ball along their back-line. However, one of their passes went astray, and quick as lightning Charlie Sheridan hacked it on, was able to gather his kick and race clear to score under the posts. Craig Ronaldson added the extras and then on 71 minutes, Charlie Sheridan rounded off a memorable day for him by adding his fourth try following a sublime break. For the sixth time Ronaldson successfully slotted the conversion and the home side led by 47 points to 24.

Banbridge kept trying right to the final whistle and were rewarded with a try by Aaron Kennedy after 79 minutes which secured a try bonus point for them, and deep into injury-time Michael Cromie rounded off the scoring for the day when finishing off a well worked line-out move. Neither try was converted leaving the final score 47-34 in favour of Naas.

This was a fine team performance by Naas. Their pack competed aggressively, their line-out has not worked better all season and the scrum was extremely solid. The backs looked dangerous every time they got the ball, with special mention going to Charlie Sheridan for a magnificent four try haul. Certainly on this performance they can look ahead with confidence to the remainder of the season. Next up for Naas is an away fixture against St. Mary’s College on Saturday, February 18th. Kick-off is at 2.30pm and as always as support will be greatly appreciated.

Naas: Fionn Higgins, Donal Conroy, Charlie Sheridan, Craig Ronaldson, Matt Stapleton, Bryan Croke, Conor Halpenny, Stephen Lackey, Conor Doyle, Peter King, Paul Monahan (capt), David Benn, Cillian Dempsey, Will O’Brien, Ryan Casey. Replacements: Tadgh Dooley, Jack Coyle, Eoin Walsh, Derry Lenehan, Henry Smith, Jack Sheridan.

Banbridge: Adam Doherty, James Buller, Conor Field, Josh Cromie, Ross Cartmill, James Humphreys, Neil Kilpatrick, Michael Cromie, Peter Cromie (capt), Christian Trimble, Martin Vorster, Alex Thompson, Alexander Weir, Dale Carson, Max Lyttle. Replacements:Arthur Allen, Ryan Emerson, Robin Sinton, Daniel Kilpatrick, Aaron Kennedy, Macauley Little.

Referee: Kieran Barry.

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