Saturday, October 18, 2014

Leinster A-26 Jersey-6

Update March 2017 - The passage that relates to the weekend's French farce is highlighted in yellow


You know how "Murphy's Law" is "everything that can go wrong will go wrong"?

Well what do they call it when everything goes bizarre rather than wrong?  With the day I had we could easily call it Pagano's Law, but enough about me...I'll keep this post about the rugby.

On the scoring front it was essentially the Luke McGrath & Ross Byrne show.  The scrum-half (who was both captain and easily man of the match IMO) helped himself to two first-half tries and even played a part in his number 10 going 5/5 from the tee as the blustery conditions meant he had to hold the ball steady each time.

The first try came right from the restart after Jersey's first successful penalty at the 17-minute mark.  An excellent kick chase from Sam Coghlan-Murray pinned Jersey on their own line and the support was there to turn the ball over to enable McGrath to dive over on the first phase.

The second was made look even easier by the number 9 - on a night when footing was anything but sure, with his backs stacked left he held up his pass and simply ran around a ruck the other way and sailed over the line. 

The rest of the contest pretty much followed the same pattern...phase, maybe two, maybe three, error, set-piece, repeat process.   Any kind of a tackle left the ball carrier vulnerable to a fumble which made for a crazy amount of scrums even when you take out the end-of-first-half-madness which I'll get to later.

Apart from our starting halfback pairing it wasn't really a night when anyone was going to stand out, though Steve Crosbie did quite well at inside centre all things considered.

Now for the "fun" part...namely the weirdness...
  • Kickoff - things were awry before a ball was even kicked as a delayed flight from the Channel Islands meant the start had to be put back by half an hour.  Had Alan Quinlan been around he would have been mightily impressed by everyone being in their seats by kickoff long as nobody told him that most didn't get the memo about the change!
  • Conditions - nobody who has ever played field sports in Ireland would be a stranger to wind and rain while playing.  But what made this interesting was that since it was a "plastic" pitch, despite the weather we didn't have the usual situation whereby the forwards were caked in mud while the wingers' jerseys looked like they just came out of the wash!  Plus at scrum time there were no sloshing pools of mud to be avoided.  It didn't really make it much easier for the players to put a decent amount of phases together, however (not that I'm knocking the pitch, mind you...they are definitely the future for the game and players will get used to them as time goes on).
  • Injury time at the end of the first half - This sub-heading actually needs its own subheadings!
  1. Yellow? What yellow? - Jersey pinned Leinster on their own line as the clock was already over the 40 minute mark (though in the B&I Cup the time is kept in a manner closer to soccer) and a penalty meant hooker Bryan Byrne was shown a yellow card.  Well when I say "shown" he didn't see it at first and Jersey took their penalty against 15 men so the play had to be called back!
  2. The never-ending scrum - they just kept on coming.  I'd say there had to be at least 12 sets altogether in the sequence on our 5m line.  At one stage the ref (Matthew O'Grady from the RFU) had to bin another Leinster player; this time prop Peter Dooley was the one to go.  So we had just the 6 forwards, yet the scrums continued, and along with them the penalties.  Early in the sequence I was surprised Jersey opted for the scrum as they seemed to have a decent lineout/maul but it got to the point where you assumed the ref would eventually had to award a penalty try.  He didn't.  
  3. Byrne return - the sequence of scrums took so long that Bryan Byrne was actually able to return to the field of play before the halftime whistle was blown!  Has that ever happened before?  Then at the umpteenth time of asking, there was a loud ironic cheer from the crowd as the ref gave a penalty for Leinster and the half was finally over.  You have to feel most sorry for the poor half-time mini teams who had come to the sideline and had to wait in the rain while all this was going on!  Truly bizarre and Jersey would be within their rights to feel hard done by the ref at that point.
  • Jersey unsure - the oddness of the evening was not to end there.  We were reminded of that Manchester United match against Southampton in 1996 as Leinster A emerged from the dressing room for the second half in a completely different set of jerseys to the ones they started with.  Originally they had the previous home kit with the harp logo on the side but then they switched to the old 3rd-style you see in the photo.
  • Schoolboy Terrors - Nah - I'm only messing, the younglings seated in front of me were far from terrors - instead they provided a decent amount of entertainment during the many scrum sets throughout the match.  When they weren't spotting the numerous "elite squad" members in the crowd "There's Rob Kearney!  There's Jordi Murphy!  There's Ben Te'o!" they were spotting other things... "There's all the mots goin into Wez!"
So as you can tell, this was definitely a match worth braving the elements for, and I have to say these B&I nights rarely disappoint.  

Sadly there was no bonus point for Girvan Dempsey's men, though when awarded a penalty deep in the Jersey 22 around the 73 minute mark we chose to take the easy three rather than go for a third try so I reckon they were happy with their win.

Let's just say I will gladly take a similar Leinster victory on Sunday at the RDS!



Taken by JLP from RDS press box on Nov 16, 2019