Did you ever think that you’d see the day that Bruff would make it to within ten minutes of Putting Cork Con out of the AIB Cup? And deservedly so. With the media being 50-50 split beforehand regards who would come out on top of this clash, it appears as if we have become a team to be worried about for the big guns. Cup rugby, in any case, comes down however to team against team on the day and the luck of the bounce and which side can hold their nerve determines the winners just as often as anything else.
Despite having to delay a team announcement right until twenty minutes before the kickoff and facing into a mild storm in the first half, the Bruff pack were well fired up for this encounter. David Horan, Cathal O’ Regan and Stephen Foster came out well on top of their exchanges with Munster Prop Tim Ryan and his front row cohorts Gareth Murray and Lloyd Gabriel. Mike Carroll had a stormer on his first full-on game back in the first XV, Alan Bourke was on fire throughout. Peter Malone, John Shine and Captain Cathal O’ Regan led by example and Bruff ground their way constantly into the Cons half of the pitch. Unlucky in their handling from time to time, they also fell afoul of the referee on a number of occasions at the ruck and this again allowed relief of the pressure for Cons.
In contrast, Cons totally failed to make any major use of the wind in the first forty minutes and seemed content to play the ball in the pack and through route one, like you would expect if it was them that faced into the diagonal wind. A few half hearted attempts at lofting ball down to the Bruff back three were returned into their faces and they dropped the tactic completely when confronted with the super-cool poise under the high ball of Brendan Deady, Finbarr Hogan and Paul O’ Brien. Cons sum total for thirty odd minutes: merely two kicks at goal coming from penalty decisions at the rucks. Richie Lane missed the first on 6 minutes and slotted number two on 30 minutes. Then came Cons only major incursion into the Bruff half of the pitch courtesy of a breakaway run by winger Richie Lane after 34 minutes,. When he failed to convert his own try, it meant that the half time score stayed at 8 to nil. Bruff looked the much better side going into the break and as has often happened to visiting teams on their first trip to Kilballyowen, there was a scent of fresh blood in the air. Was another old and respected club about to fall under the cosh to the new kids on the block?
The second half Started with Bruff really piling on the pressure and fourteen minutes in following a long stretch of pressure inside the Cons 22, Alan Bourke crossed the whitewash with Brian Cahill adding the extras. All of a sudden the game tempo upped and 8 minutes later following infringements at the ruck Brian Cahill had his first attempt at a penalty almost on the 22 left of the posts. Allowing for the strong crosswind he calmly slotted it over to put Bruff 2 points in front. Another attempt from the halfway line just three minutes later would have put some real daylight between the teams but Cahill’s attempt fell under the posts to give Con the 22 Dropout to relieve the pressure. From here on it was more Pressure from Bruff on the Cons line, problems with rucking again relieving the beleaguered Cork side but the Cons defence held firm. On Cons first foray into the Bruff 22 in the second half, a simple line-break by replacement Andrew O’ Brien gave them a try under the posts leaving a straightforward conversion for Lane to slot over. 15-10 and eight minutes left on the clock. With both sides keeping it tight at this stage of the game, the 400 odd strong crowd felt that the next mistake would clinch the game against whoever made it. Again the Bruff pack took on the challenge and parked themselves in the Cons half of the pitch but Con Held out until the final minute when a decision to take a tap penalty rather than kicking for the corner proved expensive for Bruff. Lane intercepted on the wing to run in almost unopposed and converted himself. Final score 22 points to 10, a little flattering for the visitors although they did just about deserve the win for their defence and ability to break out from anywhere. Their back line making the difference on the day. All in all a great Bruff performance however, and even though some felt that Bruff would not win it, we gave them a fair fright. A fantastic run out before next week’s AIL 8th round game against Lansdowne.
Bruff: B. Deady, P.O’ Brien, J. Malone, J. Carroll, F. Hogan, D. Maw, B. Cahill, P.Malone, J. Shine, M. Carroll, D. Murnane, A. Bourke, S. Foster, C. O’ Regan (C), D. Horan. Subs: M. O’ Donnell, G. Ryan, E. Maher, G. Leonard.
Supporters Bus is travelling to next Saturdays away game in the RDS so contact Lil Cahill if you wish to travel up on the day.