This week's U16s Ulster Carpets East fixture found Malone travelling to Ballynahinch for a much anticipated top of the league clash, with a nearly full squad of players and an undefeated string of matches under our belts confidence was high!
After the usual well drilled warm up and with the support of ever faithful travelling contingent, our boys took to the field for what looked to be an exciting game against two evenly matched teams
The game kicked off and within seconds it was clear the anticipation for this game was not unfounded as both sets of players set about with what I can only say as 100 percent commitment and a ferocious intensity rarely seen at this level, bodies were well and truly being put on the line and with much of the possession it only seemed a matter of time before we were to cross the line, alas something we were unable to do as Hinch's resolve seemed as strong as ours
With the help of some decisions which can only be explained by scientists from Area 51, Hinch broke the deadlock first, and after a missed conversion the 1st half finished 5 - 0 to Hinch.
2nd half our boys took to the field and faced off against an equally determined team! A scene that wouldn’t look out of place on Braveheart! Wallace! Wallace! (must have been some of the Lisburn contingent.. I'm pretty sure we were playing Hinch).
Within a few minutes our boys were back in control displaying some rugby skills rarely seen at Ravenhill Kingspan let alone at Hinch with some cheeky one handed off loads, breath taking dynamic running, pinpoint accurate passing and demon like tackling our boys seemed on track to score next. However as fate would have it, key decisions started to go against us and after what only can be described as a strange set of calls it was in fact Ballynahinch who crossed the line and after a successful conversion the score was now (uncharacteristically) 12-0!
As I looked round in frustration I swear I could see Mulder and Scully in the car park (not so fond of Mulder, but Scully really does bring a shine to Loyd's head), as some of the decisions were certainly "otherworldly".
After a rousing speech from our coaches, (again led by Head Coach Nathan) and some fresh legs our boys were back on the offensive and with 15 mins left managed to secure a line out near the half way line - the throw in was perfect however the match was stopped due to an infringement from Ballynahinch! No advantage to us, so surely we were looking at a penalty for us? The answer was no the "ref" asked us to retake it as he wanted to give Ballynahinch the "benefit of the doubt"!
Lineout retaken and our boys were bundled into touch! 12 mins to go line out to Hinch! Up stepped our very own Devin Toner in disguise Patrick Phelan who disrupted their line out (something he had done all game to be fair) and after a steal by our hooker some vital metres were made up the pitch some much needed courage and skill was required to secure the ball at every breakdown resulting in Nathan Murphy crossing the line and after a successful conversion kicked by miles the score was now 12-7... Fingernails ready to bite everyone!
How long is left sir was the call “5 mins was the reply” I think someone may need a new watch for Christmas, or someone needs to re-draw their Mickey Mouse hands .. (actually Mickey Mouse is quite an apt character to mention at this point).
Kick off by Hinch and our boys were straight on the offensive but were bundled into touch. Line out to Hinch and Patrick’s eyes were alight however Ballynahinch deployed their until now unused secret weapon the "banana throw in" ( or in layman’s terms an un-straight throw in video evidence can be supplied) the ball unsurprisingly was secured by Hinch and kicked into touch.
Line out to take I hear you cry alas no that was not to be as the ref blew the match up.
12 - 7 to Ballynahinch.
If I saw a pig flying it would be easier to explain than some of the decisions made on Saturday, but with the shortage of refs within Ulster Branch, you can't always get a Nigel Owens or even a Wayne Barnes.. but to get a George Clancy.. well enough said.
Malone's man of the match is Nathan Murphy (free bouncing vouchers all round) for some brilliant running and deft kicking skills as full back! Well done Nathan (is that a wee skydiving voucher I see too) !