A good match, a competitive game, a game that Dungannon lost, not beaten by Wanderers but by Officialdom! That said take nothing away from Wanderers, a good team, they took every opportunity offered.
Post match the writer was sitting in the local Dart station waiting for a train and noticed one of those rolling advertising boards on the opposite platform, It urged watchers to sample a smoothie called ‘Sour Cherry’. At that moment I certainly felt soured but realised that would be pointless, I could end up thinking like a politician.
Watching the World Cup, for me the one great downside has been the decisions of the officials. However isn’t their fault, their ability to use common sense and their initiative has been taken away; all because World Rugby amended the laws just prior to the World Cup rather than give the changes a season to bed in. I am afraid we are in for a very frustrating season.
Because of Big Brother and the media watching them referees in Japan are looking for foul play especially high tackles, neck rolls, tip tackles and any contact with the head. No one can criticise them in the circumstances and this selective vigilance has moved down the food chain to all levels of club and school rugby. Unfortunately, and this was evident at Merrion Road yesterday, the mundane offences like obstruction, jersey pulling, forward passes were fading into the insignificance. Little things can change the course of a game. Dungannon were beaten as much by little events as by Wanderers.
A good afternoon for rugby played on a perfect surface at Merrion Road. The game started well for Dungannon when seven minutes in Adam Evans intercepted on the Gannon ten metre line and broke up to the Wanderers twenty-two before off loading to Harrison Dudley-Rode who went over on the left. Evans kicked a good conversion.
0 – 7
Shortly after the restart Wanderers received the second of many penalties and Dungannon had to defend from a five metre lineout. The defence held. Although Wanderers were having the better of exchanges during the first quarter neither side really got on top. On sixteen minutes Wanderers scrum half Conor McQuaid nipped through a gap created by an unfortunate or fortunate third party obstruction to score between the posts. Out half Conor Byrne converted to level the score.
7 – 7
After eighteen minutes Dungannon were awarded a penalty on the left and from about thirty metres out Adam Evans converted with an excellent kick.
7 – 10
Wanderers attacked again but Andrew McGregor made two clearances to relieve the pressure.
Another significant obstruction was missed but our Hosts benefitted and Conor Byrne converted. He repeated the feat on thirty-three minutes to put Wanderers in the lead.
13 – 10
However three minutes later we had the try of the match. A sublime pass by Evans sent Matthew Montgomery searing trough the Wanderers defence and rounding the last man for a try that Evans converted.
13 – 17
With half time approaching Dungannon kept the imitative and mounted a sustained assault on the Wanderers line. The defence held and after a penalty Dungannon opted for a scrum. Now here we had a strange event, from an attacking scrum on the opponents five metre line the attackers, Dungannon, were penalised for pulling down the scrum. Half time.
Wanderers started the second half the better, after pressure on the Dungannon line Wanderers were awarded a penalty that the reliable Byrne converted.
16 – 17
When Dungannon lost a man to the bin for a high tackle Wanderers put on the pressure again. Somehow the Gannon defence held. When a Wanderers prop was held up over the line a five metre scrum was awarded. As Wanderers spread the ball wide Dungannon skipper Andrew McGregor’s anticipation was razor sharp. Andrew plucked the ball from the air and was away, no one was going to catch him as he sprinted away to touch down between the posts to the delight of the travelling faithful. Evans converted on sixty-two minutes.
16 – 24
Shortly after the restart following an unnoticed offside by a Wanderers prop a promising Dungannon attack just inside the Host’s half was halted for crossing. Small margins. The resultant penalty was drilled deep into the Dungannon twenty-two. Some frantic defending by Gannon kept Wanderers at bay. Eventually Dungannon infringed and Byrne converted a penalty after seventy minutes.
19 – 24
A potentially great Dungannon restart dropout bounced just a foot on the wrong side of the corner flag giving Wanderers a scrum on halfway. Wanderers attacked and scored far out on the right on seventy-four minutes and Dungannon lost David Leyburn to the bin.
24 – 24
With the scores level and Dungannon a man down Wanderers were not going to miss the opportunity to grab a victory. Following an error a penalty was award to Wanderers. They put Dungannon under the cosh and eventually made the extra man count as they went over on the right for the winning try.
24 – 29
Wanderers are a good team and took advantage of Dungannon’s yellow cards. Both defences were tested and performed well and although each side scored three tries overall the defences performed well.
The Dungannon players may only have got a bonus point, but although disappointed they should not be disheartened; the positives far outweighed any negatives and as stated little margins can make a big difference.
Team:- Andrew McGregor. Matthew Montgomery, Andrew Weir, Mark Faloon, Harrison Dudley-Rode. Adam Evans, Jack Ravey. Glenn Sinnamon, Malcolm Allister, Sean O’Hagan. Stephen Todd, Lewis McCrabbe. David Leyburn, Adam Milligan, Alexander Gormley. Daniel Maxwell, James Gamble, Cameron Steenson, John Russell, Johnny Toal.
Wanderers: Niall O’Donoghue. Eoin O’Shaughnessy, Michael Russell, Peter Crowley, Cathal Martin. Conor Byrne, Conor McQuaid. Aaron O’Callaghan, Brian Vaughan, James Robinson. Brian Quill, Geoff Mullan. Tom Walsh, Conor Felon, Patrick Mallon. Riobard Wilmot, Kieran Stokes, Mark O’Reilly, Kevin Dolan, Cian Doddy.
Referee: Robert Diaconescu.