U18's struggle against Belfast Met
By Philip Johnston
New kids on the block outshine Red Sox
After the bruising encounter of the previous week, when the guys performed superbly to edge an 8-7 thriller away at a very wet and very windy Ballyclare, there was not only much expectation for this week’s encounter with the “we’re semi-professional cos we study rugby and train 5 days a week” Belfast Met, but also some personal scores to settle with friends who went over to the dark side of the Met (some just to warm their bench…)
The guys were pumped and raring to go, when they saw the ref… well, lets just say, it was the first time he had reffed the guys since he did them out of a Ravenhill (sorry “Kingspan”) U16 cup final, when he let the opposition re-take a last kick of the game penalty that they missed.. however with some expectation, they hoped (as did several parents on the side line) that he had changed... Anyway, to the match..
From the kick off, the boys chased and seemed to turn over the ball, when “Fweeeet”… Penalty to the Met – Malone not rolling away… And so, sadly, the tone was set…
The Met scored their first try shortly after this with some well worked passing of the ball out to their wing, when our covering full back decided today was the day he didn’t want to get his hair ruffled and completely missed the tackle. Malone were trying hard to regroup, but the structure was lacking and some players were simply not at the game… maybe they had other things on their mind, maybe they were just trying “too hard” to settle a score or two.. either way, the Met rattled in another two tries, one of which was while Malone were down to 14 due to a yellow card for “not rolling away” …Sigh…
As we approached half time, Malone were camped on the Met line, when we got a penalty, then another and another and another due to persistent infringing by the Met.. Four penalties, in the opposition 5m, surely another would see a penalty try… “Fweeet..” surely a penalty to Malone.. No, half time… Say whaaaa??!!??
As the boys were taking on water, the (short angry) coach asked the ref for clarification of the final plays on the Met line… the response “it was 38 mins and I’ll already given four penalties, so I had to call half time” - the… mind… boggles…
So on to the second half, although we had improved, there was still some falling off tackles and not committing to the breakdown, although it was a much more even encounter (perhaps the ref was resting his over-used arm)… until… yellow card for high tackle… again down to 14 and again the Met took advantage of the extra man to score.
However Malone were not for giving up, and we replied straight away with a score after some tight ruck and mauling at their line.
So, final whistle – 29-5 to the Met, a solid performance from the well drilled Met, and speaking to them afterwards they said it was the first time this season they really “clicked”. What is most galling is how much an underperformance there was from Malone (refereeing decisions aside – let’s face it we’re never going to get a Nigel Owens type at youth rugby, and you get decisions one week, and against you the next.. but Soooo many, in one game !!) anyway, it was a poor game from Malone, especially after the battling performance the crowd were treated to the week before in Ballyclare.
And so, back to training on Wed to see what went wrong and what we, collectively, can do to improve. Onwards and upwards…
PS.. (Slowly opens left side of weather beaten Mac and in a whispered tone “want a copy of a video nasty”), the Met kindly sent us a copy of the match video… some uncomfortable viewing awaits