Ulster Bank AIL – Nenagh-Ormond 34, Midleton 17
This week saw the start of the Ulster Bank All Ireland League, and Midleton RFC travelled to Nenagh-Ormond to get the campaign underway. As the first league match of the season this was always seen as a tough encounter and that proved to be the case.
Our new fly-half Chris Walker got the game underway with a good kick off and Midleton came up quickly to prevent Nenagh from advancing, but are caught offside and play is brought back to half way for a Nenagh throw. Midleton win the Nenagh lineout and pile the pressure on to push forward winning a scrum well inside the Nenagh half with about 5 minutes of the game played.
Midleton continue to pile on the pressure and in these early stages are looking well with Nenagh on the back foot. Midleton win another two scrums on the Nenagh 10 meter line putting on the pressure but Nenagh hold fast. Play moves back and Midleton is then awarded a penalty for Nenagh not rolling away. Christian kicks for the line and it’s a Midelton throw just outside the 5-meter line in the Nenagh half.
The Nenagh defence is strong and they win a turnover ball to clear their lines. Midleton return with a long kick and Nenagh decide to run the ball, with just under 15 minutes of the game played Nenagh break through and an easy try is scored. For the conversion, Nenaghs number 10 seems to pause when running for his kick and Midleton take the ball from the tee. The Score is now Nenagh-Ormond 5 Midleton 0.
The speed of the Nenagh back-line is going to be a problem for Midleton for the remainder of this game. After the restart Nenagh again advance and win penalty under the posts –Nenagh Ormond 8 Mildeton 0. The game starts to get away from Midleton at this stage; off the back of a Nenagh Scrum, Nenagh manage to get in for a quick second try, this time converted to leave the score at Nenagh-Ormond 15 Midleton 0. The next period of time sees more pressure from Nenagh – a scrum in the Midleton half followed by a quickly taken free sees Nenagh over for their 3rd try of the afternoon without reply. The score at this point is Nenagh-Ormond 22 Midleton 0.
Another team might be forgiven for throwing in the towel at this stage and Midleton are in bad need of a score to get them going. However, Midleton continue to show character in bringing the game to Nenagh, and following a scrum against Midleton for a knock on in the Nenagh half, Nenagh are penalised for not releasing. Christian makes it Nenagh-Ormond 22 Midleton 3. After the restart Midleton bring the pressure back to the Nenagh half, a quick kick and chase attempt fails and the Nenagh fullback gets to call the mark with the resulting clearance bringing play down to the Midleton half. Midleton are down to 14 men and defending hard wining a penalty to bring play back to the half-way line. Losing the resulting lineout Midleton are again defending hard up to halftime. The score at half time stands at Nenagh-Ormond 22 Midleton 3.
Nenagh restart the second half and Midleton return the ball with a clearance kick that is well fielded and a Nenagh back makes a dash for the Midleton line – he looks to be going in for another Nenagh try when Christian Walker forces a knock on at the Midleton 5m line with a great piece of defensive play. Two scrums later and some tense defence work from Midleton sees play back at the halfway mark. Midleton win a penalty 8 minutes into the second half that is well out from the Nenagh posts but it is driven wide. The score still stands at Nenagh Ormond 22 Midleton 3.
Its all Midleton for the next period of time as the pressure is piled on. The team really try to bridge the gap in score built in the first half. There is a lot of pressure play and both teams seem evenly matched in the scrum at this stage.
With about 15 minutes of second half played Midleton win a penalty and kick for the line. Lineout on about the Nenagh 10m line, Midleton win and drive a great maul for the line to score their first try of the afternoon. All players from 1 to 8 will claim that one! The score is now Nenagh Ormond 22 Midleton 10.
Play stays around the centre of the pitch for the next while and with a Midleton foul we are down to 14 men again. Nenagh kick for the line and from the lineout Nenagh try their own Maul but Midleton hold them out – Nenagh though recycle quickly and move the ball wide to get in for their 4th try of the afternoon. Nenagh-Ormond 29 Midleton 10. The middle phase of the first half looks to be repeating itself as not long after the restart the speed of the Nenagh attack again undoes Midleton and another try results. Nenagh-Ormond 34 Midleton 10.
Still Midleton continues to show great resolve and character by putting pressure on and looking to drive forward. This determination is rewarded when Chris Walker makes a brilliant break up along the left hand line, almost in touch and managing to avoid at least two tackles before offloading to Sean White who goes over for Midleton’s second try that is then converted by Christian. The score is now Nenagh-Ormond 34 Midleton 17 with about 10 minutes left in the game, and this proves to be the last score of the game as both teams trade scrums and kicks around the centre of the field as the clock winds down to fulltime.
The real damage was done in the first half however Midleton showed great character to get back into the game by scoring two tries, both of which show the strength that Midleton can bring in the forwards and the speed from the backs. While a loss, there is a lot of learning from this game and we are looking forward to the next encounter on Saturday 5th October when Midleton will host Ards at Townspark for our first home league game – kick off 2:30pm.