Well if you needed a fixture to focus the mind at the opening of the UBL an away trip to Temple Hill with a rematch of last years final promised enough crash, bang, wallop to entertain even the most rabid MMA fanatic.
Both sides have the core of their sides intact although, with a few personalities absent for this fixture there was an opportunity to expose some of the younger crew to the challenges of Club Rugby at the highest level. One of those challenges is concentration so when the ‘Tarf defense took its time shaking off the summer sun, Con took advantage and a missed tackle in the centre saw the home side efficiently create a two on one and a 7 pointer after 2 minutes.
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Slapped into wakefulness by that score Clontarf started to apply themselves and for the next 25 minutes played superb rugby, breaking the home defence at will. A fraction more composure should have seen the visitors in for three scores but , unfortunately, they had to be happy with one after some superb dummy lines opened a gap for Matt Darcy and Sam Cronin found him with a pass like a shot from a rifle. At that stage Tarf were 10 7 to the good and asking all sorts of questions of the home defense.
Frustratingly , Clontarf began to get anxious that their dominance was not being rewarded and that led to an element of panic in possession. Clontarf were already playing the game at breathtaking pace with a high degree of risk. The lack of success required more composure in possession as patience would surely have seen them in for more scores. Instead , highly understandable youthful enthusiasm led the the pace being increased and at warp speed the only result was lack of control and turnovers . Needless to say , against Con , turnovers are lethal and the resulting counterattacks saw the home side in for 3 more gifted scores.
To their credit Tarf never buckled and were fighting back to the end with an agonizing knock on in injury time denying them a deserved losing bonus point.
So, the final score line really didn’t tell the full story in a game where Clontarf dominated possession and played with enormous ambition across he park. As the season progresses and the younger players adjust to the challenges we can surely hope for more ambitious, thrilling performances with some victories tacked on !