Clonmel RFC beat St Maryâ€™s 30-17 to remain at the top of the Munster Junior 1 league thanks to the bonus point win.
For the first fourteen minutes it was all Clonmel. St. Maryâ€™s were on the defensive from the start and never progressed past the half way line until the 20th minute. It was yet another very good, â€˜full teamâ€™, performance by Clonmel.
All the early pressure paid off when Clonmel were awarded a scrum about 15 metres out from St. Maryâ€™s try line. With what now has almost become his calling card, Jaco Oosthyusen broke from the back of the scrum to score a try under the post. Conor Cooney had no difficulty in making the score 7-0. At this stage it seemed like nothing was going right for Maryâ€™s, the kick-off went straight into touch as a result Clonmel were awarded a scrum on the half way.
A good solid Clonmel scrum saw the ball being flashed out to Mark Jenkinson on the wing who broke through several tackles and brought the ball close to Maryâ€™s 22. The support from the forwards was good and piling on the pressure resulted in another penalty for Clonmel, converted by Conor Cooney.
Then it was as if Clonmel collectively decided to take it easy, and with the ensuing lapse of concentration they conceded four penalties in succession. St. Maryâ€™s kicker, their outhalf, Sean Lyons, was kicking against a cross wind and missed each of the penalties. But the fourth penalty resulted in a Clonmel forward being shown a yellow card. This was on the stoke on normal time halftime, but the referee informed both sets of players that he would be playing four minutes injury time.
Clonmel were just outside the 22 and reduced to 14 men. St. Marysâ€™ opted for a line-out which resulted in a 5 meter scrum for them. They should have scored but their No. 8 fumbled the ball at the back of the scrum. Niall Oâ€™Brien was quickest to react, picked, ran and made good ground. He slipped the ball to Cooney, who passed to Oosthyusen. From deep inside his own half, Oosthyusen sold two dummies on his way to the try line. But the try saving tackle stopped him in his tracks.
With only three minutes of injury time remaining, another Clonmel forward was presented with a yellow card. Down to 13 men and only 10 points separating the teams this was going to be a daunting task for Clonmel. Sure enough from the penalty on the half way, St Maryâ€™s decided to run the ball. It was easy enough for them to cut through the 13 men with the big No. 5, Brian Hartigan, scoring the try. Half time score was 10-5
With 13 playing against 15 it was Clonmel that started off better in the second half. Within a couple of minutes Conor Cooney had scored again from a penalty. In the sixth minute, Maryâ€™s second row Brian Purcell had the touchdown after a powerful forwards drive and push over for the try. This time outhalf, Sean Lyons, converted to narrow the score to Clonmel 13-12.
With Clonmel back to full complement they had a purple patch of excellent combination rugby between forwards and backs. One such move resulted in Ronan Cross catching a clean ball in a line-out. He made ground before passing to Morgan Lyons at outhalf, who passed to wing forward Niall Oâ€™Brian, then the ball was passed to centre Brian Lonergan, who in turn passed it to the oncoming fullback, Conor Cooney. Cooney still had a lot of work to do to add to his try scoring tally for the season to date.
It now looked like Clonmel had the upper hand again and were on their way to victory. But a lapse of concentration by the referee meant that a penalty that should have been awarded to Clonmel deep inside St. Maryâ€™s half was ignored. Clonmel waited for the whistle, but St Maryâ€™s scrumhalf, Sean Markham, played the whistle and ran more than half the length of the pitch to score a try. Clonmel responded quickly and within two minutes the fleet of foot young hooker Podge Keating scored Clonmelâ€™s third try of the day. Clonmel rounded off a feast of rugby with a well taken bonus point try from Morgan Lyons, converted by Cooney.
The bonus point win keeps Clonmel at the top of the table with Richmond who also had a bonus point win over Waterpark last Sunday.