A great trip, Fantastic Hospitality and one of the highlight games of the season for the first XV. That’s about the best description of the away trip up to Deramore Park last saturday.
Right from the off the Referee laid down the pre-game warning about following last weeks IRB instructions regarding tacklers rolling away on the deck. Bruff were pinged on three occasions while Harlequins had a twenty minute purple patch and with two kicks for goal that went astray within the first twelv minutes. While they were long range attempts, the first going wide and the second coming off the upright, they were well within range of Ian Porters impressive boot. He finally landed one after 2o minutes after Bruff were pinged for coming in the side and they took a 6 point lead with their second penalty after 23 minutes, Bruff being blown for hands in the ruck after appearing to turn the ball over but the tide had changed and the Bruff defensive patterns of old had begun to assert themselves. Finally the vaunted Pack took charge of matters at the breakdown and with the defense also in charge of proceedings in the tight, Bruff got their just rewards when they backed themselves to spurn a kic for goal to go for the corner. With lots of runners from the resulting lineout and nice lines following phase after phase, the ball was finally flicked to the returned vice captain Maurice O’ Connell who crossed the whitwash to touch down for the opener on 29 minutes. Brian Cahill added the extras and it was game on. Four minutes later Bruff fell foul of the ref’s whistle again and Porter who had found his range slotted number three to keep the pressure on. 9-7 to the home team. Bruff took charge again and attacking strongly coming up within the home teams 22 twice and returning with three points on each occasion, Cahill having a great day from the spot and went into the half-time break value for their 13 points to 9 lead.
Again Quins began the second half strongly, Bruff defended well but the duck was broken with a sweet break from Quins giving Michael Ferguson the touchdown which Porter converted. Things were right back to where they started 16-13 to the home side. It was at this time we had the game changer when on two occasion the Quins defence kicked down to Bruff full-back Brendan Deady and twice he came right back at them in spades, Five minutes later and Bruff were level after Brian Cahill slotted another following one of these fantastic returns from Deady. Another a couple of minutes later and Bruff were back in front. Bruff brought Colm O’ Sullivan, Alan Bourke, Tony Cahill and Robbie finn on one after the other with serious impact. Seminal moment number three came following a fantastic counterruck on a Quins attacking ruck inside the Bruff 22. Alan Bourke blew the posts back on their backsides and with the ball free and the refereee waving, noted pirate John Shine gleefully pounced on the ball and scampered clear breaking the length of the pitch to about ten meters short of the line before a fantastic offload (while being caught by the Quins full-back) put through winger Tom O’ Callaghan who had charged up the field brilliantly in support.Brian Cahill added the extras on 72 minutes and finally there was daylight between the sides. 26-16, but it was never going to be enough against the table toppers as they weren’t going to lie down easily. They proved that within three minutes when following a charge up the field, a 12-13 move tying up the Bruff centres leaving the wing-forward to clear run up the middle. Matthew Holmes touched down , Porter converted and yet again it was game on. They proved their mettle again with some strong late attacking but the Bruff defence held on valiantly until eventually a minute into injury time they coughed up a very long range pressure penalty givng Ian Porter a chance to equalise matters, but he missed right and the referee finally blew no -time on a fantastic game giving the famously loud Bruff travelling horde a fantastic celebration with the strains of the “Wild Colonial Boy” and “You Shook me all night long” emanating from the visitors dressing room.
This makes it four wins on the trot in the UBL and gives Bruff a real fighting chance at maintaining their status in Division 1b. With UCC relegated following their loss at the weekend to Galwegians and UL Bohemians doing the business over UCD, Bruff now lie third from bottom with 31 points, 1 behind Galwegians and four ahead of UCD. Next weeks game against the strong Dungannon side has a real edge to it now with Dungannon on the hunt for points in a league that has the top 6 separated by only 7 points with three games left to play. Dungannon are in the dogfight for promotion and we are fighting to stay where we are. Next weekend is like all of the remaining games in this years season, a make or break match and will determine whether we will stay where we are.
It’s never easy is it 🙂 We just don’t do easy……..
Scorers: Bruff: Tries: Maurice O’ Connell and Tom O’ Callaghan (Give Big Al and John Shine an assist each definitely for this one), Brian Cahill 2 conversions and four penalties.
Belfast Harlequins: TRies Michael Ferguson and Matthew Homes, Ian Porter 2 conversions and 3 penalties.
Team: Brendan Deady, Paul O’ Brien, Andrew Cashman, Garry Leonard, Tom O’ Callaghan, Brian Cahill, Eoghan Maher, Stephen Foster, Cathal O’Regan, Colm O’ Sullivan, Brain Morrissey, Maurice O’ Connell, Mike Carroll, John Shine, Paddy Clery, Subs: John Hogan, David Horan, Alan Bourke, Tony Cahill, Robbie Finn.