Seapoint U-20s put in a solid team performance and were competitive in all aspects of this Premier II league match despite ultimately losing away to Naas. This was a highly entertaining game with lots of rugby being played by both sides in difficult windy conditions. The decisive score was a try scored by Naas in the first 5 minutes, this being the critical score in a game which Seapoint lost by 13 points to 5. Seapoint played with the breeze in the first half and started well, exerting a lot of pressure from the kick off. However, as they applied pressure on Naas, a missed tackle in the opposition 22 created a line-break up the middle of the pitch. Naas displayed superb handling and pace to score under the posts. 5 minutes in and Seapoint were trailing by 7 points to nil despite having the wind at their backs.
When the game resumed the match proved an equal contest, with Seapoint having plenty of scoring opportunities but also having to defend vigorously at times to keep Naas at bay. Lots of the game was played between the 22-yard lines. As the first half progressed, Seapoint gained more territory and possession but failed to convert into points. 20 mins in, Carl Byrne had to come off with a concussion but was ably replaced by Conan Brady. There were some worrying moments in the closing minutes of the half as Naas gained a foothold in the Seapoint 22 and threatened the line on more than one occasion, but Seapoint’s defence held firm. Half time arrived with Seapoint still trailing by that single converted try.
If Naas believed that they would run out easy victors in the second half they were mistaken. The Seapoint pack started strongly and with Hayden Hempenstall and Jack Reynolds leading from the front Seapoint dominated possession and kept the home side at bay. Ultimately Reynolds ferocity put him on the wrong side of the referee, and he was sent to the bin 10 minutes into the second half. Naas opted to kick the penalty but missed the long-range attempt. Shortly afterwards Hayden Hempenstall was side-lined with a suspected concussion, despite his enthusiastic protestations what he was fit to continue. Naas were awarded a closer penalty kick which they converted, Seapoint now trailing 10 points to nil. The game re-start failed to go 10 metres and Seapoint were immediately back under pressure. Another penalty kick and Seapoint trailed by 13 points to nil with twenty minutes to go.
Never say die, the last twenty minutes was all Seapoint. With Reynolds back on the pitch and imposing himself physically, Hugh Ross leading from the front and Harry O’Neill putting in some rampaging carries, Seapoint began to exert serious pressure. Sam Cassidy was unlucky more than once not to make a clean line break. Seapoint eventually broke into the opposition 22 and after some good carries Shane Loughlin ultimately forced his way over for the try. Manning was unlucky with the conversion. Despite lots of pressure in the closing 10 minutes Seapoint failed to score again, they had a glorious opportunity a yard from the line in the last minute of the game, however concession of a penalty allowed Naas to clear their lines.
So a lot of positives, excellent defence throughout apart from one mistake early on, solid scrums, and lineouts were superb. Our backline exhibited good handling, good intelligent kicking and lots of ambition. Once again white line fever, and poor decision making in the red zone prevented us from scoring on more than one occasion. That said this team is getting better every week and that elusive win will come.
A well-deserved break next week and then three games in succession. Wanderers at home, Trinity away and Terenure at home to finish up before Christmas. Looking forward to all of them.
Team : Callum Desmond, Hayden Hempenstall, Harry O’Neill, Hugh Ross, Jack Reynolds, Carl Byrne, Andrew O’Donovan, Daniel Drohan, Abe Tormey-Smith, Tiernan Hurley, Stephen Manning, Sam Cassidy, Sam Lynch
Bench: Brian Emerson, Conan Brady, Jack Hand, Shane Loughlin, Arthur Hoade, Patrick Guest, Tochi Onyemelukwe