Tallaght v Emerald Warriors
Saturday 13th January 2018
On what looked like a horrible day on the morning of Saturday 13th January, the bad weather kept away for the Emerald Warriors first league game away to Tallaght in 2018.
After a long Christmas break without rugby, it was clear the team was excited to get back playing. The pitch itself was exposed, soft underfoot and there was a wind factor to take into consideration. The Emerald Warriors kicked into Tallaght in the first half, with the wind blowing towards us. The on coming Tallaght were met by a strong line of defence from the Emerald Warriors. Tallaght had a number of players of significant size on the field, however our forwards were more than up for the challenge and pushed them back continuously. It was clear to see Tallaght’s wings were a weak point, to which the Emerald Warriors attempted to capitalise on when the ball was spread wide. A combination of last ditch tackles by Tallaght, first game jitters and rusty ball control from ourselves stopped us from taking the lead only centimetres from the try line. After what felt like good pressure being put on Tallaght and playing right up into their half, we were pushed back to a scrum deep into our own half. Tallaght broke and got it to the big man, however he was stopped from scoring and held up by Mark with some fantastic defensive work. We couldn’t hold them off a second time with a subsequent scrum leading to Tallaght scoring first. The hard work was being put in on the pitch, however Tallaght were the more clinical.
Following on from that score the heads didn’t go down, we felt more settled in the game and the jitters had left the team. Again we attacked and this time it was the Emerald Warriors who struck with a try from Vincent. (Honestly, I don’t remember how it happened, more than likely beat a few players with a couple more hanging off him heading for the try line).
From memory, Tallaght scored again off a scrum deep into our half where our back line space was exploited from a hard direct run. Although behind, we bounced back with some direct running from the forwards, passing it out to the backs to gain space up the field. Out of the ruck the ball was moved fast where our attacking formation was formed and ready to strike. The pass was delayed from the oncoming defence to try and spot a weakness. A late run exploited a gap between two defenders and we were through for another try by Vincent. Almost level, we went into the second half still very much in the game.
The second half started well, however we didn’t have that clinical edge to our play on the day. Although deep into the oppositions half, we struggled to capitalise on the end product due to errors. Adding a shoulder injury in the second half to a broken nose in the first to two forwards, it was two tough blows to take in the one match.
With the wind to our backs we deployed the kicking game to get out of our half and gain ground. With fatigue already at play, the fitness levels were tested attempting to make ground up the pitch. The game was end to end with last ditch tackles being put in to fend the opposition off from both sides. In the end, the final score was Tallaght 17, Emerald Warriors 10.
It was clear to see Tallaght did not want to loose this match. Their finishing team was stronger than their starting team after a number of substitutions. Although this may deflate us that it was a loss, the better the ability we play against the better we can become. We are better than a ‘Division 11’ team, we put it up to players playing a higher level and tested them. However, we have not proven ourselves yet and need to have the confidence, determination and ruthlessness to see our next opposition off.
Lots of positives can be taken from the game and everyone did put in a serious amount of effort, therefore well done lads. Special mentions to a number of players making their debut / first full games. Others include Mark Mulligan for that try saving tackle amongst other great play, Brendan for direct running through the teams defence coming in from the wing and Shane Carr and Ioan for great work in and around the ruck.
Man of the Match award went to two players; John Toner and Vincent. John, for a new player to the team, you don’t look at all out of place on the pitch. And Vincent, well just for being Vincent.
Queen goes to Michael (again). A yellow card being the only reason.
As much as we can take positives from this match, we still lost and that’s the reality. I know this team is very good, the ability in this team is phenomenal, especially given how little time ‘rugby’ has been a sport to the majority of us. We should have high expectations for ourselves and it’s only human nature to be disappointed with the result. However, how we bounce back from this is key.
With it being the start of a new year it’s a great time to reflect on the last and set goals for the current. Ask yourself, are you personally doing enough for this team to help it improve? Are you giving full effort at training and matches? Are you doing sufficient fitness/rehab outside of rugby to aid your development?
Our countdown to Bingham cup is looming and it looks like we will be sending two teams. Speaking to a player who went to Bingham previous, he said ‘I wish I did more in my lead up to Bingham’. This is a reality of how tough it will be physically, but also mentally if you don’t feel you have given 100% before you leave or when you are there, have no regrets!
Bingham will creep up on us very quickly, making small changes now can really help in the run up to this tournament for the team compared to a 2 week balls to the wall boot camp on a crash diet of fuck all just before Bingham. Changes such as adopting healthier eating, outside fitness activities to rugby, taking care of the body through mobility to reduce potential avoidable injuries etc. These are coming from a personal perspective because I want to do everything I can to help this team finish off this season as strong as possible. Do you?
See you all (old & new) Monday at training, let’s get the numbers up!