Boyne 3rds take the points in scrappy game at the Lodge
Cancellations over the two previous weekends for various reasons meant that this was the first game of 2008 for Boyne 3rds, who begin the year well placed at the top of the North East League. This was to be a home fixture for Swords, however it was moved to the Lodge as the Swords pitch was unplayable.
The pitch was heavy, and not conducive to the type of open attacking game that Boyne play. This was to be a day for hard slog up front, and a few flashes of class in the backs.
Regular outhalf Gary Downey was unavailable, so a re-jigged backline saw captain Fergus Walsh step into the 10 role, with Neil Berney and Eoghan McEvoy in the centre. Alan Martyn continued at scrumhalf, while James Muldowney joined regular backrowers Eldon Moors and Conor Walsh.
The game kicked off at 1pm and the opening exchanges were conducted in the midfield area, with both sides having to commit numbers to the breakdown to win ball back. This was to be a feature of the game, as Swords played to their strengths, which is a big, well organised pack of forwards. After 5 minutes, from a scrum in midfield, the ball was sent out right to Walsh at outhalf. He took the first defender on the outside, sold a dummy to beat the second and chipped behind the Swords fullback before finishing off his own move by beating the cover to the touchdown. The conversion was narrowly wide.
On 10 minutes, a kick to the corner in the Swords 22 gave Boyne an opportunity to put pressure on the Swords throw. While Swords won scrappy possession, the advancing Boyne forwards closed down the outhalf who scuffed his clearance. The ball was sent right to Derek (Degs) Farrell who showed soft hands to draw the defender before putting prop Andy Martyn through for the score. This time Walsh added the extras to make it 12-0 to the home side.
Following this early barrage, the game began to slow down as the big Swords pack opted to keep it tight, and commit numbers to the rucks and mauls. With slow ball coming out, it was difficult for Walsh to create much in attack, although Berney and McEvoy made some good ground up the middle, and Neil Dunne on the wing clearly had his opposite number for pace. And it was to be Dunne who scored next for Boyne following a simple passing move across the backline. He chipped over the advancing winger, and a mistake from the hapless fullback allowed him to collect and score unopposed. Walsh converted to make it 19-0 approaching halftime.
There was still time for Swords to register a score of their own, however, and a pick and drive from a 5 metre scrum led to a maul which crossed the line before collapsing. It would have been a tough job for a video ref to see the ball being grounded, but the referee awarded the try nevertheless. It was no more than Swords deserved for their efforts in the first half, and the conversion meant the teams went in to halftime on a scoreline of 19-7.
For the second half, James Muldowney retired injured and was replaced by Kev Fagan. Colin Keogh, who put in a big performance in the first half from second row, moved to backrow, and Scott Harvey replaced Shane Smyth in the front row. Harvey has scored in every game this season, and this game was to be no different. The big prop muscled over on the hour mark to record an unprecedented 7th try this season. The score came from a lineout in the Swords 22. The ball was won cleanly, and a rolling maul made good ground before Harvey broke from the base to cross the line. Up to that point the second half had been a dour affair, with both sides defending stoutly. The heavy pitch took its’ toll on many of the players, for whom this was their first game since before Christmas. Kevin Wallace came on for Paul Govern on the wing, and Brendan Walsh replaced his brother Conor at openside flanker.
Despite the changes, the game never came to life after halftime, and both sides were glad to hear the final whistle. The fulltime score was 24-7. Another bonus point win for Boyne
sees them in an unassailable position on top of the league. Ardee will be the visitors next week, although focus is now beginning to switch to the Holy Grail of 3rds rugby, the Anderson Cup, which will be starting soon.
Boyne: Smyth (Harvey 40), Shuttleworth, Martyn, Farrell, Keogh, Muldowney (Fagan 40), C Walsh (B Walsh 60), Moors, Martyn, F Walsh, Berney, McEvoy, Govern (Wallace 55), Dunne, Kelly.