Close Call for Division 3 Leaders
Connemara 16 Bruff 21
Top of the table Bruff arrived in Connemara with a very impressive record, only 22 points scored against them in 9 games. In fact 5 teams failed to score any points against them. From reading their web site, keeping a clean sheet has become as important to them as winning.
It was a perfect day for this battle between a team at the top of the table full of confidence and Connemara a team in the bottom 4 that is growing in confidence after wins in their last two outings.
This was a chance for Connemara to measure their progress over the last few weeks against the best in Division 3.
From the very beginning of the match it was obvious that Bruff, like Munster, like to play 10 man rugby and like Munster are good at it.
At half time with Bruff leading 21 to 6 it looked like Bruff were going to add another scalp to their record and run out easy winners. One more try and they would get a bonus point to increase there points tally and move them further ahead of their nearest rivals .
The third try right on the half time whistle seemed to be the final nail in the coffin for Connemara. In the process of scoring this try the bruff number 8 was tackled went over and sustained a bad leg injury. At this stage the referee took the teams off the field while the player was attended to.
On resumption of the second half Bruff converted the try they had scored before the accident right on the whistle for half time.
The score was now 21-6 and despite playing with the assistance of the wind Connemara had it all to do playing against a team that had only conceded 1 try and 22 points in all in the last 9 games. It was a big ask.
I was glad not to be in the dressing room at half time but from our position it seemed like some very serious talk was going on and the Connemara team were being asked to stand up and be counted.
Bruff started the second half as they finished the first. They are not the biggest pack I ever saw but the technique was brilliant they obviously have a forwards coach. They played phase after phase, some times up to 10 and 12. Connemara defense did trojan work but how long can you keep this up.
Connemara got a break from one of these attacks when David Keogh got a boot to a loose ball that eventually was fed to Paddy O Toole on the left. He had come on as a sub and in the 8th minute into the second half did very well to round the defense and go in for a try, only the second try scored against Bruff this year. Troy Nathan converted what was a very difficult kick 5 yds from the right touch line. This left the score 21-13 The large attendance now got behind the home team because another score for Connemara would get a bonus point.
When Connemara got to 21-16 with 10 minutes to go it was all to play for. Connemara needed a try and conversion to win and Bruff needed another try for the bonus point.
Bruff continued to press and got s penalty 30 yds out. They kicked for the corner to try and secure the fourth try but Connemara defended well and made only an odd trip to the Bruff half of the field.
The pressure continued right up to the last kick of the match which it self was interesting. A penalty 25 yards out in what was a very kickable position. Some consultation took place with the referee and the Bruff player kicked the ball into touch and the referee blew the full time whistle. One of the Bruff supporters explained why they did not take a shot at goal.
He said they had nothing to gain by scoring a penalty and there was a risk of Connemara scoring if they missed the kick and the ball remained in play.