There will be no easy fixture for the U-20s in the Prem II League, but it is unlikely there will tougher than the first fixture of the campaign, an away match to MU Barnhall. Seapoint had most of their squad available for selection and were looking forward to the test. Ultimately, Seapoint went down fighting to a bigger heavier team where scrummaging dominance for Barnhall was probably the decisive factor. Nobody could deny that a last minute try and conversion by Seapoint was not merited. With a little more luck or a couple of different refereeing decisions they might have even snuck a win. As it happens, Seapoint took away a well-deserved losing bonus point.
The first 10 minutes of the match were cagey. Barnhall had most of the possession and looked to move the ball wide when possible, however poor handling let them down. Seapoint were well organised in defence, their aggressive blitz putting pressure on the Barnhall attack. After 7 minutes Seapoint conceded a penalty inside their own 22 which Barnhall converted for the first score of the game. After the restart, Seapoint displayed good ambition of their own, Campbell and Forster making inroads upfront, whilst Manning, and Cassidy displayed good understanding and handling in attack. However, despite several forays into the Barnhall 22, Seapoint struggled to get a score. In the last 10 minutes before half time, the game seemed to be put out of reach when Barnhall scored two tries. The first came from a lineout maul inside the Seapoint 22 which Barnhall drove over from 20 yards out. They missed the conversion. The second try was somewhat disheartening, a couple of missed tackles in the opposition half allowed the Barnhall winger do a good impersonation of Usain Bolt as he sprinted 50 yards to score. At this point, things looked bleak with Seapoint trailing 15 points to nil and only 4 minutes left in the half. This team are never beaten however, and when Cassidy and Whelan combined to make a line-break into the opposition 22, Barnhall conceded a penalty. Brindley went to the corner, Seapoint won the lineout and after several successive pick and go’s Brindley went wide to allow Forster to score in the opposite corner. Brindley converted a difficult kick to make the score a more hopeful 15 points to 7 at half time.
Seapoint had a disappointing start to the second half, failing to deal with the restart and shortly afterwards conceding a penalty. Barnhall went to the corner, set up a maul and scored. A failed conversion meant Seapoint now trailed by 20 points to 7. After the restart Seapoint upped the tempo and began to gain a real foothold in the opposition half, forcing Barnhall to concede successive penalties in their own 22. Eventually a blatant high tackle earned one of the Barnhall players a yellow card (could easily have been a red) and from the subsequent tap and go Liam Forster forced his way over for his second try of the game. Unconverted, this left the score at 20 to 12 points, 15 minutes into the second half. Despite being down to 14 players, the Barnhall team rallied. When Liam Forster was carded after 20 minutes for a tip tackle, Barnhall scored shortly afterwards and converted to make the score 27 12.
That looked to be that as the game appeared to be lost. But once again Seapoint found another gear and went on the attack. Manning was unlucky not to score when the ball was knocked out of his hand after a decisive line break. Sustained pressure eventually resulted in a penalty kick which Brindley converted to bring the score to 27 15. The last 8 minutes of the match belonged exclusively to Seapoint. Continual pressure eventually resulted in a last minute try for Louis Whelan which Brindley converted with the last kick of the game. [b]Final Score Barnall 27 Seapoint 22[/b]. All in all, a very positive performance. Lineouts generally worked well albeit with a few overthrows in tough conditions. The scrums were under pressure to a much bigger and heavier pack. Campbell and Forster the two outstanding forwards in the loose. Brindley was excellent at 10 as always and the Manning Cassidy centre field partnership worked very well. Alex Lee was solid in defence and looked dangerous whenever in possession.
1 Luke Hammond 2 Conor Eivers 3 Conor McCaul 4 Jack Campbell 5 Jack Reynolds 6 Hugh Ross 7 Sean Finn 8 Liam Forster 9 Barra Whelan 10 James Brindley 11 Louis Whelan 12 Stephen Manning 13 Sam Cassidy 14 Oscar Lawlor 15 Alex Lee 16 Hayden Hempenstall 17 Eaun Hall 18 Jack Hand 19 Michael Donnelly 20 Mikel Herrero 21 Philip Bolger 22 Daniel Drohan.