Header2014 IRFC

1st XV win 31-23 at Malahide - record set


On Saturday 27 January 2024 Instonians travelled to Estuary Road to play Malahide looking to maintain their 8-point lead over Wanderers at the top of the table. Acting President Joe McCarthy gave a warm welcome to the travelling Instonian party at an excellent pre match lunch.

Despite the outside noise around this match being the one that would break the record for successive AIL wins (which had been held by Terenure on 29 wins), Instonians would have been well aware of the excellent home record of Malahide with 4 wins from 5 and the only defeat being to an excellent Wanderers side by 30 points to 20. Furthermore, after a magnificent 80-minute performance by Instonians against Dolphin in the last game it would have been very difficult to find anything to improve on in training for this match.

Also, Instonians have a target on their back for the rest of this league campaign as every team wants to be the one to stop the run and with a heavy pitch and the wind by the seaside the conditions were perfect for an upset.

14:30 Malahide 0 – Instonians 0

Malahide kicked off with the wind and immediately looked for territory by kicking long. When Instonians cleared to their 22 metre line Malahide used a good driving maul off the line out and on a penalty advantage kicked for the right winger but Instonians talented young full back Bradley McNamarra got up early to make the catch.

Malahide kicked for a line out only 5 metres out but this time Instonians did very well to stop the driving maul in its tracks and had a good exit to their 22 on the clubhouse side by the sea.

Again Instonians stopped the driving maul and got the scrum put in. Captain David Whitten picked up from the base and set up the ruck for Instonians to move the ball left across the pitch but Malahide recovered a chip over the top by Instonian out half Ruari O’Farrell. They counter attacked but a great jackal by Paul Pritchard on his 22 gave Instonians the relieving penalty.

14:41 Malahide 0 – Instonians 7

Then the first piece of real class came from Instonian scrum half Rhys O’Donnell as, following his trademark show and go around a ruck on the Malahide 10 metre line, he made a great break and chipped over the last man deep in the Malahide 22 and only the bounce of the rugby ball stopped him opening the scoring.

From the resulting scrum to Malahide just 5 metres from their own line they would have been hoping to use the wind to clear their lines but Instonians had other ideas and shoved their scrum backwards to win the ball against the head. The ball was moved infield to centre Ian Whitten who took it up to the line and when the ball was quickly recycled Paul Pritchard was on hand to score under the posts, giving Ruari O’Farrell any easy conversion.

14:48 Malahide 0 – Instonians 14

Malahide used the wind to kick long into the Instonian 22 but an excellent clearance kick by Rhys O’Donnell took play back up to halfway.

When Malahide were penalised for crossing in midfield, Instonians kicked for a line out just inside the Malahide 22. Following the initial driving maul, the ball was moved right and back left where the Malahide no 6 was given a yellow card for a high tackle.

Instonians chose the scrum option and moved the ball left and back right and after great support play between forwards and backs it was Marty Voster who dived over near the posts giving Ruari O’Farrell another easy conversion.

Malahide again used the wind from the kickoff to kick long but this time it was Bradley McNamarra with a sweet left foot taking play back up to his 10 metre line.

14:55 Malahide 0 – Instonians 19

Even at this early stage Instonians were dominating the scrums and won a scrum penalty on the Malahide put in. Matthew Keane found touch on the Malahide 10 metre line by the clubhouse. Malahide were penalised for interference at the lineout and then moved back another 10 metres for dissent.

When Malahide knocked the ball forward in the tackle Instonians had a scrum just on the Malahide 22 on the clubhouse side. They kept the ball in the scrum and marched Malahide back 10 metres and were given another scrum penalty which they kicked for a line out and seconds later young hooker Oli Clarke was touching down for a try at the back of the inevitable driving maul.

Ruari O’Farrell missed the difficult touchline conversion into the wind but Instonians had just produced a near perfect 1st quarter of the match into the wind. The question was could they go on to produce another 80 minute performance on a heavy pitch and with the wind sometimes dying down and then deciding to show its teeth again.

15:04 Malahide 7 – Instonians 19

Malahide kicked long again with the wind, but Bradley McNamarra put in a great returning kick to halfway.

From the line out it was Instonians turn to be penalised for interference and Malahide kicked for a line out 10 metres out knowing that they simply had to get some points on the board before they turned round to play into the wind.

They moved the ball left and right and on a penalty advantage threw a long pass out wide for the right wing to score and their 13 Dave O’Halloran converted from the touchline.

Instonians brought on Liam Kaprigiannis for Alan Whitten at prop at this stage.

15:10 Malahide 14 – Instonians 19

Malahide knew that they had to score again before half time and again used territory to get themselves into the Instonian 22. Captain David Whitten however took off on one of his mesmerizing runs out of defence and kicked ahead and chased up towards the Malahide 22 but the penalty at the next phase went against Instonians for obstruction in midfield.

Again Malahide used the wind very well to find touch on the Instonians 22 by the clubhouse and move the ball right, back left and right again to score in the corner and Dave O’ Halloran bisected the posts again with ease from the touchline.

15:14 Malahide 17 – Instonians 19

With time running out at the end of the 1st half Instonians lost the ball forward running the ball back and Malahide had a scrum on halfway. They knew by now that they had to get the ball away quickly from the scrum having been pushed off their own ball twice already and when they moved it right Instonians 7 Paul Pritchard saw yellow for a deliberate knock on when up in defence. From 40 metres out and with the wind there was only going to be one result with Dave O’Halloran and when the ref blew for half time Instonians will have been scratching their heads as to how they were only 2 points ahead despite playing into the wind and furthermore they now had 10 minutes with a man down to come at the start of the 2nd half.

HALF TIME –Malahide 17 – Instonians 19

Instonians will have been very pleased with the 1st quarter of the match but disappointed with the finish to the half and to be only 2 points ahead and a man down for the 1st 10 minutes of the 2nd half.

Conversely Malahide will have been fearing the worst after the 1st quarter when they had wind advantage and were 19-0 down. They now knew that it was crucial to get points on the board with the man advantage.

The challenge for Instonians was twofold, firstly to negotiate the yellow card and secondly to use the wind advantage as their 1st thought is normally just to keep ball in hand and run it.

15:19 Malahide 17 – Instonians 19

Ruari O’Farrell kicked off with wind with the match very much in the balance at this stage and some nervous spectators amongst the large Instonian travelling support.

15:22 Malahide 20 – Instonians 19

Those nerves would have been frayed as Malahide ran the ball back into the wind and won a penalty at the breakdown on the Instonian 22 under the posts. No surprise to see Dave O’Hallaron put Malahide into the lead and they now had 20 unanswered points and still had a man advantage.

At this stage Neil Saulters came on at hooker for young Oli Clarke.

Instonians ran the ball back from deep and Malahide were penalised for a high tackle but Instonians lost their line out on their 10 metre line. Malahide countered and saw an opportunity to extend their lead taking play deep into the Instonian 22 but then lost the ball forward and Instonians had a scrum 5 metres from their own line and a great exit with Rhys O’Donnell passing to Bradley McNamarra who use the wind to clear to halfway.

15:36 Malahide 23 – Instonians 19

Paul Pritchard came back on from his yellow card with Instonians only 1 point behind and with the wind. Also Mark Mairs came on for Eoghan Murphy.

Instonians then had a good period of continuity between forwards and backs taking play up to the Malahide 22 but were then penalised at the breakdown.

Malahide ran the ball back and when Instonians went offside in the backs in midfield it was within Dave O’Halloran’s range and the wind had died down a bit. It carried through the middle of the posts comfortably and despite being 15 v 15 now it was Malahide who extended their lead to 4 points.

15:44 Malahide 23 – Instonians 26

Instonians then made changes with Daniel Keane coming on for Michael Melville and Alan Whitten coming back on for Liam Kaprigiannis.

Instonians then went through the phases with controlled possession and good hands and support play between forwards and backs. They put the Malahide defence under pressure and forced them to concede a penalty 15 metres out from the line and under the posts. The easy 3 points was declined in favour of the scrum. This was a key play, Instonians needed to make this count.

They won successive scrum penalties and then off the 3rd moved it right with Bradley McNamarra nearly getting over in the corner. They crucially maintained possession and when they moved it back left using willing support runners Rhys O’Donnell used his trademark show and go again to good effect and dived over for the bonus point try. Ruari O’Farrell added the extras from just to the right of the posts.

Eoghan Murphy came back on for Marty Voster at this stage.

David Whitten then made another great break out of defence but the ball was just lost forward 10 metres inside the Malahide 22 with Ruari O’Farrell and Bevan Prinsloo in support.

Malahide then came straight back again and won a penalty at the breakdown and a very kickable penalty for Dave O’Hallaron to level the scores. Interestingly though Malahide kicked for a line out 10 metres out from the line on the clubhouse side. Possibly playing into the wind they felt that they needed more than 3 points at this stage.

15:55 Malahide 23 – Instonians 31

Malahide moved the ball across the backline but a brilliant intercept from Daniel Keane in his own 22 looked like Instonians may go the length of the pitch as they had numbers out wide but it was stopped by a deliberate knock on by Dave O’Halloran who saw yellow and Malahide had now lost their key kicker for the rest of the game.

Then a fantastic score by Instonians to seal the match. It started with a great break up the middle of the pitch by prop Schalk Van Der Merwe in his own half. He found Rhys O’Donnell in support who made great ground and the ball was then moved swiftly right for Bevan Prinsloo to score in the far right -hand corner. The relief from the travelling Instonian support was palpable. Ruari O’Farrell missed the conversion from the touchline but it mattered little as Instonians were 2 scores ahead with 5 minutes left and Malahide were a man down and more importantly it was their excellent goalkicker.

16:01 Malahide 23 – Instonians 31

From the long Malahide kick off Matthew Keane put in a great clearance kick with the wind to the Malahide 10 metre line and when Instonians got a penalty at the next breakdown Matthew stepped up to kick to touch on the clubhouse side and a attacking line out. Unfortunately though, Matthew went for distance with the wind and kicked the ball dead.

From the scrum back Malahide had one last chance to get a losing bonus point they richly deserved and they put together a great passage of play putting Instonians under huge pressure but Instonians showed great defence and when they won a penalty at the breakdown Ruari O’Farrell tapped to himself and then kicked the ball out and the ref blew his full time whistle.


FULL TIME – Malahide 23 – Instonians 31

This was another great game of AIL club rugby. Malahide’s home form has been very good this season and they will be very difficult to beat there for the rest of the season. They deserved a losing bonus point without question and made it an uncomfortable afternoon for Instonians.

Instonians will have been very pleased how they started the match playing into the wind and scoring 3 tries as they raced into a 19-0 lead. They also finished the game well but they will not be happy with the middle half of the game. On the plus side they now have plenty to work on in training until their next game away to Dungannon in a fortnight.

As for MOM honorable mentions go to Rhys O’Donnell and Schalk Van Der Merwe but it goes to captain David Whitten for his great runs out of defence and his leadership on the pitch in testing circumstances.

Now that the record has been set for 30 successive AIL wins (and all with bonus points to boot) the team can now just concentrate on the next game but in fairness to them that is what they have been doing anyway. Wanderers and Galway Corinthians both won and remain within touching distance with 6 games still to go, so the team will have a Saturday off next week and regroup and focus on Dungannon away on Saturday 10 February. The mantra remains the same, “one game at a time”.