Final Result: Midleton 12: Mallow 10
Midleton under 14’s ended as winners in a close and hard fought match against Mallow to make it their third league game win of the 2013 season.
Mallow led with an early try in the first ten minutes but failed to convert. Spurned on after their slow start Midleton began to get the upper hand in contact and at the breakdown. This resulted in their fast paced number 8, Blake O’Keefe, finishing off a series of controlled ruck & pick movements by the forwards to touch down beside the posts, easing Second Centre, Ciaran Evans’, successful conversion attempt.
Using possession from a dominant lineout, Mallow’s big runners broke though for another try after 15 minutes in the corner despite stern defence from Midleton backs. Under the prevailing windy conditions, place kicking was difficult and again Mallow failed to convert.
As the game went on the Midleton backs got more involved in attack and brought play deep into the Mallow half to allow the forwards again to crash through with a try by flanker, Alex O’Brien. The try wasn’t converted but nonetheless Midleton looked the more comfortable despite a lead of just two points at half-time.
The second half saw Mallow come out fully determined to regain the lead. For a time their bigger pack commanded dominance in lineouts and they had the edge in scrums. As their backs got more ball the game looked as if it may indeed turn in their favour. However Midleton altered their lineout tactics and significantly tightened up their scrumaging technique to gain some parity at set pieces. Midleton never faltered in their breakdown support and steadfast defence, players realised that Mallow were a team that enjoyed hard running and each tackle had to count and must be supported by strong counter -rucking
In the last quarter of the game Midleton lost the battle for territory and remained in their own half for most of this period. This culminated in a very tense final five minutes with Mallow on the attack around Midleton’s 25 meter line area. Supporters feared a late try from Mallow was coming and Mallow began to take the upper hand with some excellent backline running. Midleton drew deep on resources and never relented in their defence. The last play of the game had Midleton kick out toward the halfway line after they won a lineout on their 25 metres line only to be forced back toward their try line with a clever cross field grubber from Mallow. An unwavering chase for the ball from Midleton’s fly half, Eoghan Ruane, and the fast Mallow wing saw the Midleton’s player’s GAA skills come through as he pressed hard to get the ball to touch and bring the game to a close with the final whistle.
The final score of Midelton 12, Mallow 10, only the successful conversion separating the teams, reflected the closeness of the game and certainly in this excellent match no side deserved to lose. Mallow turned up with a strong, well coached side, and will no doubt focus their disappointment into winning their next games. The match was played vigorously but in good spirit and each side will have learned a little more about their own strengths and weaknesses. Our thanks to Mallow RFC and referee, John Spillane.