Sport is cruel. It has no conscience. It is the ultimate barometer of ability combined with performance. Seapoint needed to combine a perfect performance with their attacking abilities to beat a team of heavier and physically stronger opponents. Sadly, a couple of inaccuracies on the day resulted in Seapoint falling just short of what could have been a famous victory.
Gameday started with promise. A dry pitch, a light breeze, a sunny day. Perfect rugby conditions. Seapoint were at full strength, some tough selection decisions meant that there was bad news for some talented players who had played their part throughout their campaign but for whom there wasn’t room in the match day 22. An air of anticipation was palpable across the club. The call for support had gone out during the week and the Seapoint faithful didn’t disappoint. The pitch was lined with the biggest turnout of the season and an enthusiastic and noisy crowd were ready to play their part.
Seapoint started well playing into the mild breeze and defending the goalposts on the far side from the clubhouse. However, after some good Seapoint forays, a knock-on in an attacking lineout gave Barnhall an attacking scrum. A scrum going forward, and some simple passing gave Barnhall a score close to the posts after only 5 minutes. Not the defence we expected from Seapoint. Shortly after the kickoff a long kick from Barnhall deep into the Seapoint 22 was denoted as a 50-20 despite Barnhall having passed the ball back into their own half. This gave Barnhall an attacking penalty. A good lineout take, and a maul that trundled on fifteen yards resulted in Barnhall’s second try. 12 nil after 10 minutes – this looked like it was going to be a long day for Seapoint.
With the heart of lions and unbelievable belief in their own abilities Seapoint, led from the front by Forster, Campbell and Cronin, fought their way back into the game. Inch by inch, tackle by tackle they started to play the rugby we knew they could. A Barnhall player was given a yellow card for a high tackle. The resultant penalty found touch deep into the Barnhall 22. Seapoint lost the lineout, but McCaul was quickest to snap up the tap back and after a few driving mauls Campbell forced his way over for Seapoint’s opening score. Brindley converted and the scoreline of 12 points to 7 twenty minutes into the first half gave the supporters hope. After the restart Seapoint continued to press and had a good position within the Barnhall half when Brindley was injured and had to leave the field. Soon afterwards, Barnhall had a penalty opportunity to extend their lead but a poor effort with a following wind went wide. Seapoint finished the half the stronger and had several attacking opportunities before halftime. Sadly, the lineout which had been a key source of attacking possession all season was misfiring and lost lineouts allowed Barnhall to clear their lines and retain the lead.
After half time Seapoint went directly to work and Forster produced an amazing 60 yard clearance kick that resulted in a 50 20 and an attacking lineout on the opposition 5 yard line. A clean lineout take set up an attack and Seapoint looked certain to score. In a last ditch effort, the Barnhall centre intercepted the scoring pass and ran the entire length of the pitch to score under the Seapoint posts. A fourteen point swing, what should have been a 14-12 lead actually resulted in Seapoint trailing by twelve points. How could any team survive such a sucker punch ?
Grit, determination, self belief, courage. This team has all of those qualities in abundance. Seapoint dominated most of the second half from that moment. Halfway through the second half, a penalty (deliberate knock on and a second Barnhall yellow card ) in the opposition 22 gave Forster the opportunity to tap and go . A few seconds later Manning crossed over to score Seapoint’s second try. 19 14 with 20 minutes to go. We could hope again. Barnhall’s biggest weapon all day was their superior scrum. A couple of penalties found them deep into the Seapoint 22. It was a mark of respect for their opposition when they opted to kick a penalty and extend their lead to eight points.
With 10 minutes to go Seapoint again set up an attack and a Barnhall touchdown resulted in a goal line drop out. Horan received the ball on the 22, took two steps infield, sold the entire Barnhall team an exquisite dummy and cantered past his wrongfooted opposition to score in the corner. Cronin missed a difficult conversion to leave Seapoint trailing 22 19 with 5 minutes left. Sadly, despite Seapoint’s best efforts that was the final score.
An intercept that resulted in a 14-point swing. A poor start that conceded a 12-point lead. A bad call by the referee on a new rule that created the second Barnhall opportunity to score. Moments, inches , the bounce of a ball. Seapoint were unlikely to win the league but could have easily won the game and finish only one point behind in the league table. Seapoint still finished second. They played 12 matches during the campaign and won 9 of them. They lost twice to Barnhall by less than a score and once away to Corinthians again by a single score on a muddy pitch that didn’t suit attacking rugby. They did themselves, their coaching staff and the entire club proud for the entire campaign. They comprised a squad of nearly forty players and every single one of them contributed to the campaign. A special mention to Conor Anderson who despite being out injured for the entire season never missed a training session or a match and has excelled as chief entertainment officer, water-boy, fence kicker and aspirational barroom pugilist.
A special thank you to the huge crowd who joined us on Sunday – your guys were awesome. Roll on the Cup … guess who ? Barnhall away.
Find me someone who would bet against a Seapoint win ?
Note: All photo sized prints available on request.