Sunday, December 3, 2023

Greystones RFC let winning opportunity slip against Navan in Energia All-Ireland League

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Greystones let slip a winning opportunity away to Navan last Saturday to record their fourth straight defeat on the bounce and swapped league position with their Leinster rivals, dropping from sixth down to eight position in a tightly-bunched table.

‘Stones started both halves brightly, crossing for a try just two minutes into the game in the first and repeated the start in the second to cross after three minutes.

But in between these moments they failed to build momentum and let a very resolute Navan side back into the game with missed opportunities and ill-discipline resulting in yellow cards costing dearly.

Full-back Matt O’Brien raised a cheer from the sizeable Greystones support who travelled in numbers to enjoy a double header that included a second XV fixture following directly after the firsts tie.

Pressurising the Navan line from the opening kick off Greystones started on the front foot and O’Brien stepped into the backline to cut through and touchdown close to the right of the posts. Killian Marmion added the conversion for a seven-point lead.

Greystones continued to dominate and extended the lead to ten points with 15 minutes on the clock, thanks to successful penalty from Marmion, before the game shifted in Navan’s favour following a yellow card to the Greystones number eight Michael Doyle, the first of two the Wicklow men were to face during the game.

With the man advantage Navan turned the pressure on to the Greystones line and eventually capitalised with a line-out catch and drive delivering a converted try on 29 minutes with lock Harry Hester crashing through the Greystones defence.

Marmion saw a long-range penalty effort fall short two minutes later that nearly yielded a greater return with the Navan defence caught in possession behind their goal line but the opportunity passed and the game restarted with a goal line drop out.

Navan converted their own penalty on the stroke of half-time to level the scores at 10 apiece at the break.

As with the first half Greystones started the second period brightly and had their hosts firmly on the back foot defending their line.

Veteran centre Billy Ngawini finished a flowing move under the posts after just three minutes to raise the spirits of the Greystones support with Marmion adding the extras for a 17-10 lead.

Once again ‘Stones failed to build on the advantage and Navan turn the pressure on to the visiting team using the wind to good effect keeping the play deep in the Stones half with some accurate kicking of the ball yielding position inside the 22.

The Wicklow men defended resolutely but were not helped by further indiscipline and a second yellow card, this time to prop forward Iva Takatai.

Navan levelled the scores with a try in the corner and touchline conversion on 60 minutes and took the lead for the first time in the match with a penalty ten minutes from time.

Greystones fought hard to bring play back into Navan territory and fashion a scoring opportunity but ultimately ran out of time.

The defeat earned a losing bonus point that will be important when the final table is posted at the end of April but for Danny Kenny and his side it will seem scant reward for their efforts.

The result leaves Greystones three points clear of second from bottom side Ballymena and six clear of bottom side Malone.

Looking up they are just one point behind Banbridge and just three behind their next opponents at Dr Hickey Park, Old Crescent from Limerick in fifth place.

Greystones: Matt O’Brien, Ferdia Kenny, Conor Balmaine, Billy Ngawini, Craig Kenny, Killian Marmion, David Baker, Jamie Mulhern, Rob Byrne, Conor Pearse, Eoin Marmion (Capt), Ronan Mannion, Ken Murphy, Freddie Happonen, Mick Doyle. Replacements: Iva Duffy-Takatai, Darren Magee, Andrew Doyle, Fionan Denver, Paddy Byrne

Navan: Rory Gordon, Paddy Fox, Sean McEntagart (Capt), Kyle Dixon, Peter McEntagart, Evan Dixon, Jakob Matthews, Liam Carroll, Gary Faulkner, Leigh Jackson, Jordan Finney, Eoghan Noonan, Robbie Lailvaux, Ben McEntagart, Harry Hester. Replacements: Mark Farrell, Harry Beggy, Conor Ryan, Liam McAree, David Clarke.

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