Our hopes of challenging for Leinster League honors took a body blow on the road to Dundalk on Saturday as we went down 22-19 in another pulsating encounter that could have gone either way.
The first quarter was largely played out between the 22s as possession was equally shared, with ourselves struggling to make the best use of the wind at our back. In fact like last week it took close to 30 minutes before the scoreboard was bothered. Some impactful forward surges around the fringes had the effect of stretching the Dundalk defence and Darragh Mullins took full advantage as he scythed through the midfield to dot down under the posts for Matt McKenna to add the extras.
From the restart we continued to dominate, a very promising position being cynically ended by a blatant offside which to the surprise of both sets of supporters the referee deemed worthy of only a penalty. Despite that we had another try shortly after as this time some slick hands in the backs released Marty Kerr who bumped-off the fullback to ground to the right of the posts, McKenna slotting the conversion to stretch the lead to 0-14. Indeed Dundalk were very fortunate not to lose their No. 9 as he unnecessarily slid in with his knees as Kerr was grounding but yet again that’s not how the referee saw it!!
The hosts responded with renewed vigor from these setbacks and pushed us back deep into our 22 with some strong forward carries and a couple of breakdown penalties. The next Seapoint infringement unfortunately dismissed the notion that the referee had left his cards at home as he sent prop Brian Duggan to the bin for slowing their ruck ball. Dundalk chose to take a scrum from just over 5m and drove us back for their No. 8 to ground. The conversion was unsuccessful and the remaining few minutes of the half were played without any further incident.
The early wind had noticeably dropped as we kicked-off the 2nd half with Dundalk getting the better of the early exchanges. With only two minutes of the half gone we got to see a second yellow card, this time for Eddie Weaver who made an accidental high tackle and therefore we had to play with 13 men for a further few minutes. Dundalk took full advantage kicking the penalty to the corner and converting the resulting lineout maul. This time the extras were taken as our lead was reduced to 12-14.
We managed to recover from this setback and took control of possession & territory for the next 20 minutes but couldn’t create any clear cut chances against a well organised & committed rearguard. This resistance fueled the hosts as they built some pressure of their own early in the final quarter, with their forwards again doing damage with some powerful carrying. On 65 minutes disaster struck as our defence malfunctioned and we conceded an unlikely try under the posts to see us go behind 19-14.
Our response was immediate as we kept Dundalk on the back foot, testing them across the pitch, eventually extracting a yellow card for repeated infringements. A lineout deep in their 22 gave us the platform we needed for Marty Kerr to grab his second of the day as we leveled up the game, the conversion proving unsuccessful. With 8 minutes remaining it was all to play for but unfortunately we quickly conceded a penalty within range that the Dundalk fullback made no mistake with to put us 22-19 behind.
Things weren’t going our way and our over eagerness in defence saw us concede another penalty from a far more difficult position just inside our half which surprisingly they chose to attempt a kick at goal. The long range effort fell well short and from inside our 22 we launched an offensive. We managed to make ground steadily with some great hands considering the pressure we were under. Having managed to get inside Dundalk’s 22 we looked to have them in trouble but somehow they turned the ball over at a ruck, kicking it deep into touch to bring an end to the game.
This was a huge win for the home side who are caught up in the relegation battle and likewise put a serious dent in our league title aspirations, particularly as Bective Rangers recorded a close victory on their travels to Kilkenny.
We have a break next weekend before we welcome Monkstown to Kilbogget Park for what promises to be a challenging encounter – while we aren’t in control of our destiny now we certainly can’t afford any more slip-ups and look forward to a big showing of the Seapoint faithful