There was an Autumnal feel around Towns Park on Saturday 30th October 2021 as Midleton RFC prepared to take on their local Munster rivals in the all Munster AIL 2C clash as well as taking on the same opposition in the Munster Senior 2nds League.
The skies cleared brightly ahead of kick off which was a sign of things to come for the remainder of the afternoon!
Midleton 1st XV 28 – 15 Bruff 1st XV
Midleton were forced into some late changes to the team that was initially named to start following an injury to scrum half Willie Casey. This lead to a re-jig of the team which saw Florence McCarthy coming into the no. 9 position, Charlie Murphy moving from 2nd row to open side wing forward and Rob Hickey coming into the 2nd row. However, these disruptions did nothing to upset the Midleton team, who started brightly.
In the first 10 minutes, all of the early running came from the home side with some good breaks from Denis Broderick in the forwards and Stuart Lee in the backs. Midleton applied some early pressure in the Bruff 22, however the away team managed to clear their lines following some good turnovers in defence. However, a missed clearance to touch on 9 minutes allowed Midleton full back Jack Colbert to collect his own clever chip through into the 22. What followed was another period of pressure from the Midleton pack which resulted in a penalty being awarded 5m from the left touchline. Midleton outhalf Stuart Lee stepped up to nail the penalty, giving Midleton a deserved 3 – 0 lead after 10 minutes.
A great lineout take from the Midleton pack on 12 minutes allowed centre Rory Horgan to make further inroads into the Bruff 22. Fullback Jack Colbert aimed another clever kick to pin the Bruff team into their own corner again. The Midleton pack disrupted the Bruff lineout, heaping more pressure on the Bruff defence until another penalty was awarded leaving the score 6 – 0 after 18 minutes.
It was heard mentioned on the sidelines after the game that this was almost ‘a game of 3 halves’ as both sides enjoyed different spells of dominance!! It was at this point that the 2nd of the 3 halves started. As always happens in matches, Bruff hit their purple patch and only for some great tracking back from Rob Hickey, would have had a try to their name after 20 minutes. From this point onwards the Midleton try line came under intense pressure.
For the next 10 minutes the Midleton defence battled valiantly to protect their line with big tackles across the team, including a last ditch tackle from Rob Carey to bundle the Bruff attacker into touch on the 5m line. While Midleton had some great defensive turnovers, they were unable to clear their lines fully and eventually Bruff managed to get over the line to leave the score 6 – 5 after 30 minutes. Ger McIntyre was replaced by Joe Doran at this point after some good carries.
On 35 minutes, some great defensive tackles, including some great linespeed from Rory Horgan, forced a knock on by the Bruff no. 13. After this, a great steal on a Bruff lineout inside their half, allowed captain Bryan Moore to take off on a barnstorming run up the middle of the field, gaining 25 yards. Unfortunately the support was slow to get to the break down and from the resultant penalty disaster struck for Midleton. A smart kick through from the Bruff outhalf caught the Midleton back 3 napping, allowing their centre to race through for what looked like the last score of the half. Bruff were now leading 6 – 12 against the run of play.
It is a credit to the Midleton team, and their leadership group, that instead of trying to play out the remainder of the half they went on the attack immediately, bringing the game to Bruff. On 40 minutes they pinned Bruff deep into their own 22, forcing a turnover penalty. Stuart kicked the penalty to leave the score Midleton 9 – 12 Bruff at halftime.
It is not known what was said at halftime, but it was a re-invigorated Midleton 15 that returned to the field. For the next 40 minutes, Midleton had their own purple patch in what could be described as the ‘3rd’ half!
Midleton immediately went on the attack and over the next 10 minutes had multiple efforts at crossing the Bruff line fall marginally short. Rory Horgan was forced into touch on one side, while Stuart Lee was hit with a last ditch tackle by the Bruff winger to prevent a try in the opposite corner. After a great lineout, a huge carry by the Midleton 2nd centre almost resulted in a try, but an unfortunate knock on ended the move.
On 55 minutes, Bruff’s defence creaked and in-discipline resulted in a penalty and a yellow card for their no. 6. Ger McIntyre returned to the action and when Midleton kicked a penalty to the corner, instead of taking points that were on offer, they were vindicated in turning down the kickable penalty. Instead, a huge maul drive from the entire forward pack resulted in man of the match Bryan Moore touching down. The resulting conversion left the score 16 – 12 to Midleton. Julian Power was replaced by Richie Daly after a solid afternoon on the wing, while Rob England came on to add some energy in the forwards.
Some big defensive tackles from Denis Broderick, Riain Hogan, Shayne Anderson and David ‘Dosser’ O’Sullivan held the Bruff attack at bay. However, an unlucky knock on in a tackle resulted in a Bruff penalty which they kicked to leave the score 16 – 15 to Midleton with 15 minutes remaining.
Midleton never panicked and following some good interplay between the back 3, and a clever kick through from Stuart Lee, a great chase resulted in a Midleton lineout deep in the Bruff 22. The pack took control of the situation with some big carries from Bryan Moore and Ger McIntyre, along with some free flowing interplay between the Midleton back row. A further kickable penalty was turned down as Midleton decided to go for the jugular on 68 minutes by kicking to the corner.
To their credit, as is always a feature of the Limerick club, Bruff never backed down or shirked their defensive duties. It took multiple Midleton attacks from lineouts, scrums and tap penalties before eventually the Bruff defence was breached. Following some big carries from the Midleton pack, David O’Sullivan was the one who managed to break the line, crossing under the posts for his first AIL try of the season! The resultant conversion left the score 23 – 15 to Midleton with 7 minutes remaining.
A Bruff cross field kick was dealt with well by Richie Daly who turned defence into attack with a good break while another attack from the Bruff backline was covered well by Julian Power in defence. Midleton turned defence into attack in the closing minutes and, following a good break from Rory Horgan, the ball was fed to Shayne Anderson. With work to do, he battled and beat a number of Bruff defenders to touch down, leaving the score 28 – 15 to Midleton in the end.
A mentioned above, it was a ‘game of 3 halves’ with Midleton starting very well, Bruff enjoying a purple patch in the middle 40 minutes, before Midleton turned the screw to finish the game strongly. There were some great carries from the Midleton front row, second row and back row throughout the game, while the backline showed some free flowing running at times. Midleton were rewarded for the courage in turning down multiple kickable penalties, instead taking the game to Bruff and scoring tries. The only blackspot on the copy book, arguably, is that they didn’t manage to score the 4th try to secure a bonus point. However, in a local Munster derby, the Midleton coaching ticket would have taken your hand off if offered a win of this nature before the match!
Midleton 2nd XV 24 – 12 Bruff 2nd XV
As the sun set on a great win for our 1st XV, the 2nd XV took on Bruff in the Senior 2nds League. It was great to have a fixture of this nature held in the club, on the same day, allowing the entire Senior squad to enjoy a match and celebrations in the club on the same day!
In the first 5 minutes, a brave Midleton defence withstood some prolonged Bruff pressure with some great defence from the Midleton forward pack and centres. After some ferocious tacking, Midleton turned defence into attack, with a great break upfield following a well worked backs move. This lead to Richie Daly kicking through, only for the try to be disallowed.
On 10 minutes, some more good backs play saw a great pass from Midleton outhalf Michael White, putting Ciarán Evans clear. The ball was flashed firstly to the Midleton right winger, before being moved all the way across to the Midleton left winger Praise Popoola who was stopped short following a good break. The quality of the Midleton team in moving the ball from one wing to the other, along with some big carries from the Midleton pack, were a real feature of this first half.
In the 30th minute the Midleton pack earned a huge scrum penalty. However, the pressure didn’t pay off and Bruff attacked the Midleton line. Following some good attacking play, Bruff managed to squeeze in in the corner to take a 0 – 5 lead on 35 minutes.
With half time nearing, Midleton went in search of a score before the break. The Midleton scrum half took full advantage when the referee raised his arm to signal an advantage to the home side, hitting winger Richie Daly in space. When Richie was tackled, Midleton again spread the ball well to the far wing. Praise Popoola, with some distance to travel, and defenders to beat, put on the after burners to score in the left corner. The conversion was missed leaving the score Midleton 5 – 5 Bruff.
Midleton were forced to defend before the halftime break with a massive tackle from Ciarán Evans turning over a Bruff attack and allowing Midleton to clear their lines. A subsequent deft kick from the Midleton outhalf White put Josh Deady through to score under the posts on the cusp of halftime. Midleton 12 – 5 Bruff at the break.
For the first 25 minutes of the second half it was all Midleton with some great pressure from the forwards converted into points when Joe Dolan crashed over to make the score 17 – 05. Some great breaks from elder statesmen Ryan Lehane and the ever green Ken O’Connell put more pressure on the Bruff defence.
Unfortunately, on 65 minutes and intercept by the onrushing Bruff centre dragged Bruff back into the game. However, with the score reading 17 – 12 to Midleton on 75 minutes a great break from the Midleton second centre Fionn Bailey stretched Midleton’s lead to 24 – 12 when he dotted down under the posts for the last score of the game.
Midleton had some big carries and big tackles in the forwards with Steve England making a nuisance of himself, Ken O’Connell carrying well and Luke Obersbey putting in some big tackles. In the backs, the half backs moved the ball well, giving our centres and wingers the opportunity to stretch their legs on numerous occasions. The Management team will be happy with the performance also. As everyone knows, a good 2nd XV is the key to a successful 1st XV and I’m sure there will be some players looking over their shoulders after this performance.
Overall it was a great day in the Club with supporters, players, committee members and friends enjoying a great day from the pre-match meal followed by 2 very entertaining, high quality matches and some refreshments afterwards!