Header2014 IRFC

Instonians 1st XV win 28-14 at Clonmel in AIL div C

On Saturday 26 November 2022 Instonians travelled to Clonmel looking to continue their winning form and maintain their position at the top of AIL 2C. The weather forecast was for rain and high winds which proved to be correct and was witnessed by the Instonians President Owen Lambert in his now traditional early morning swim, this time in a lake in Lough Mohra in nearby Waterford. Instonians knew what to expect and needed to be ready. The conditions may have been wet, windy and cold outside but the welcome from Clonmel president Ian Cooke was as warm as the wood fire in the real rugby style clubhouse at the excellent pre match lunch. Supporters then settled in the excellent stand in expectation of a hard fought battle and that is what they got.

14:30 – Clonmel kicked off into a strong wind which was probably worth 15-20 points. In the opening minutes the strength of the wind took a searching kick from Instonians fullback Jonathan Milliken from his own 10 metre line comfortably out over the Clonmel dead ball. This gave the first scrum of the match to Clonmel back on Instonians 10 metre line and an early opportunity to see how Clonmel would cope with the very strong Instonian scrum. Instonians attacked the Clonmel scrum with a huge drive forward but the penalty went against Instonians for what looked like not pushing straight. Clonmel kicked for the line out into the wind and reached 10 metres from the Instonians 22. They threw long to the tail but overcooked it and Paul Pritchard was on it in a flash and Instonians won a penalty at the resulting breakdown.

14.34 – Clonmel 0 - Instonians 0

Matthew Keane kicked to touch inside Clonmel’s 10 metre line giving his pack a chance to use their driving maul to good effect and another penalty allowed Matthew to set up the next line out 10 metres from the Clonmel line. As the next driving maul clicked into gear Instonians supporters were expecting their first try of the day but an infringement was spotted and the relieving penalty went to Clonmel.

Clonmel then recovered a box kick to win a penalty at the breakdown which was kicked onto touch on the half way line. Yet again however Paul Pritchard won the ball at the tail and made good ground before recycled ball was moved to Bevan Prinsloo in the centre but it was lost forward in the tackle.

Minutes later Ruari O’Farrell showed how to use the strong wind to your advantage with a clever kick from just inside the Clonmel half to bounce out of play just 5 metres from the Clonmel goal line. Instonians won the line out and transferred the ball quickly along the backline to right winger Zak Davidson who looked certain to score in the corner but a great last ditch tackle from their left wing saved the day.

14:42 – Clonmel 0 - Instonians 0

Clonmel took the ball cleanly at the front of the line and mauled forward before clearing to their own 22 metre line. When Instonians were penalised for a crooked throw it was interesting that Clonmel chose the line out option and not the scrum despite the windy conditions. It back-fired as Paul Pritchard took his 3rd of the day on the opposition ball. Instonians then moved the ball left and then back right but again lost the ball forward against a strong Clonmel defence.

14:44 – Clonmel 0 - Instonians 7

Clonmel moved the ball quickly from the next scrum and attacked left and then right but knocked on to give Instonians an attacking scrum just outside the Clonmel 22 metre line on Instonians right hand side of the pitch. Instonians decided against driving forward in the scrum and instead released their back line left and good slick hands and drawing of their men created space for Zak Davidson who had come across from his own wing to create an overlap with Matthew Keane on the left wing and just 1 defender charging across to cover. A delightful dummy saw Zak sail through to open the scoring with Jonathan Milliken judging the conversion well.

From the restart Clonmel were penalised at the breakdown and another great kick by Matthew Keane gave Instonians a line out 10 metres from the Clonmel line on the Instonians left. Instonians tried and trusted driving maul was this time slowed up a bit by Clonmel so Instonians moved the ball right and back left using strong runners and then when the ball was moved swiftly right again a score looked the likely outcome but for another try saving tackle from Clonmel on Mark Mairs.

Clonmel then took their line out and cleared well into the wind.

Both sides continued to try to run the ball but the respective defences held form and not an inch was being given by either side. Instonians were having the edge at the breakdown with the penalty count in their favour while Shalk Van Derwe was prominent in driving forward and gaining ground.

14:57 – Clonmel 0 - Instonians 7

With nearly half an hour gone Ruari O’Farrell tried to use the wind advantage but he too kicked the ball dead over the far dead ball line resulting in a scrum back to Clonmell just inside the Instonians half. Clonmel’s scrum held firm and as they moved the ball right a high tackle gave them a penalty which they kicked to the Instonian 10 metre line. Clonmel won the line out and used their own driving maul to launch an attack but great work at the breakdown again by Paul Pritchard allowed Matthew Keane to launch the ball deep into the Clonmel half. Clonmel ran the ball back but were tackled into touch on their own 10 metre line on their right hand side of the pitch.

15:03 – Clonmel 0 - Instonians 14

Instonians ran a great backline movement off the line out with Matthew Keane breaking up the middle up to the Clonmel 22 metre line when the ball was recycled through several passages of play and then from a ruck Rhys O’Donnell had his trade mark “show and go” to dive over for the 2nd try near to the posts with Jonathan adding the extras.

This now felt a pivotal time in the game as with just over 5 minutes to half time you felt that Instonians would have wanted another score before turning to play into the wind while Clonmel would probably have taken the current score line.

From the kick off Instonians switched off momentarily and let the ball bounce. Unfortunately for them it bounced straight into the hands of the Clonmel left wing who sped up the touchline. Clonmel recycled the ball quickly and with strong runners put massive pressure on the Instonians line right under the posts. A try now and Clonmel would be clear favorites with the wind at their backs in the 2nd half. Clonmel had a scrum right under the Instonians posts and the home crowd knew that this was their chance. Instonians had other ideas and attacked the Clonmel scrum shunting it backwards several metres. The scrum penalty went to Clonmel however for presumably not pushing straight. Decision time now for Clonmel. Take the easy 3 points on offer and reduce the gap to 11 points or take another scrum ? They chose the latter and again Instonians attacked the scrum and drove the Clonmel pack backwards but Instonians had obviously not worked out the referee’s interpretation as they were penalised again. It was no surprise therefore that Clonmel turned down the 3 points again and this time quickly moved the ball right under the posts but a great jackal from 2nd row James Welling brought great relief to the travelling Instonian support. Matthew Keane then cleared from under his posts to the half way line and a great driving maul from the resulting line out gave Instonians great go forward ball and a slick backline movement left saw the ball go right along the line to Matthew Keane on the left wing well into the Clomel 22. The high tackle that followed resulted in a straight red card for the Clonmel centre and he can consider himself unlucky as there was no intent and Matthew was moved into his path by the first tackler.

Instonians kicked for the corner to give a line out and a great chance to get that 3rd try. No prizes for guessing that the Instonian driving maul moved towards the line but just when you expected Neil Saulters to dot down for his 13th try of the league campaign (the current 12 all from rolling mauls) Clonmel somehow managed to get in and disrupt and get the put in to the scrum. They quickly got the ball to the back and the scrum-half kicked it out to signal the end of the first half.

HALF TIME – Clonmel 0 - Instonians 14

Without the red card a 14 point lead playing into the wind may not have felt enough but with Clonmel down to 14 men it immediately became a taller order for the home side. At the break Zak Davidson went off injured to be replaced by Matthew Kilpatrick.


15:22 Instonians kicked off into the strong wind and immediately got hold of the ball and put together an excellent passage play with great continuity between forwards and backs putting pressure on the Clonmel defence which held firm.

There followed a brief period of kick tennis which Clonmel won having the strong wind advantage.

15:26 – Clonmel 0 - Instonians 14

From an Instonian line out on their own 10 metre line the ball was quickly transferred across the backline and a great break by Mark Keane into open space saw him pass to Bevan Prinsloo on his outside. Rhys O’Donnell had run a good supporting inside line with what looked a clear run to the line but the pass to him should probably have been given earlier and the movement broke down.

James Welling was then replaced by Rhys Davidson.

Instonians were now in the mood to keep ball in hand and attack into the wind and from a scrum in midfield just outside the Clonmel 22 metre line a great move off the scrum saw no 8 Ali Burke feed scrum-half Rhys O’Donnell who found Mark Keane who looked to have put Matthew Kilpatrick in in the corner only for another great try saving tackle from the Clonmel left wing.

Clonmel threw to the front at the line put 5 metres out from their own line but Mark Mairs soared into the air and stole the line out. Several rumbles left and Clonmel was penalised under their posts at the breakdown. As with Clonmel in the 1st half decision time, 3 easy points to stretch the lead to 3 scores with a man advantage or look for the 3rd try ? Instonians took the scrum option and moved the ball wide to make use of the extra man in the backs but Matthew Keane was tackled into touch at the corner flag.

15:26 – Clonmel 0 - Instonians 21

Again Mark Mairs soared to take the Clonmel line out at the front and Instonians then showed great composure and patience to keep hold of the ball during several phases before releasing Bevan Prinsloo on the right to break the attempted tackle from a now stretched Clonmel defence. Jonathan Milliken added the extras in off the post into the wind.

Instonians had drawn first blood in the 2nd half and it looked a long way back now for 14 man Clonmel even with the wind advantage.

15:38 – Clonmel 7 - Instonians 21

Clonmel had not read the script however and having defended well as Instonians went in search of the 4th try and bonus point, Clonmel moved the ball left from a scrum on the Instonian 10 metre line and got a penalty at the breakdown which they kicked to inside the Instonian 22 metre line on the left. They then showed great control of possession as they used runners to move the ball right up to under the Instonian posts where they dived over. A simple conversion made it a 2 score game again.

Instonians then came straight back at Clonmel using their powerful driving maul off line outs and good continuity between forwards and backs looked to have resulted in Bevan Prinsloo scoring under the posts but they were brought back for a forward pass.

15:47 – Clonmel 14 - Instonians 21

Both sides continued to try to run the ball which made it an exciting spectacle in difficult conditions and you would have been forgiven for forgetting that Clonmel were a man down.

Clonmel then used the wind from a penalty to kick to the Instonian 22 metre line on Clonmel’s left hand side of the pitch. From a driving maul they released the ball going forward and moved it right for the right winger to dive over in the far corner. The home crowd erupted in the stand and a further cheer followed when a great touch line conversion had Clonmel back within 7 points. Game on !

15:48 – Clonmel 14 - Instonians 28

They say you are at your most vulnerable when you have scored and that proved the case again as from the kick off Clonmel knocked on and Instonians had a scrum on Clonmel’s 10 metre line on Instonians left hand side of the pitch. The ball was again moved quickly from the base of the scrum and a superb backline move saw blind side wing Matthew Keane make a great break into open space and then slick hands across the backline saw Matthew Kilpatrick go over for the bonus point try with Jonathan Milliken converting from 10 metres to the right of the posts into the wind. From the elation of just 1 minute before when they had at least a losing bonus point Clonmell were back to 2 converted scores behind with just over 10 minutes to go.

Instonians now enjoyed a really good passage of play with great continuity between forwards and backs and some strong carries with Ali Burke to the fore.

16:03 – Clonmel 14 - Instonians 28

Instonians had all their bench on now and Clonmel saved their best scrum of the day for last with a great surge on Instonians scrum on Clonmel’s 22 metre line giving them a penalty which they kicked to Instonians 10 metre line. Another penalty and they were on the Instonian 22 metre line looking to get the losing bonus point their 2nd half performance with 14 men would have thoroughly deserved. From a scrum their no 8 went blind and with support from his pack Clonmel advanced towards the Instonians posts when a brilliant jackal by Paul Pritchard forced a turnover and after a kick out of defence Matthew chased well and got another jackal.

With the last passage of play Instonians had another great backline movement right which was followed by great interplay between forwards and backs with the final pass going to Neil Saulters in the far right hand corner. Just when Neil looked to be getting his 1st try from open play heroic Clonmel defence kept him out.

When Clonmel were penalised for not releasing Matthew Keane hammered the penalty into touch as the ref blew for full time.

FULL TIME – Clonmel 14 - Instonians 28

This was a great bonus point win for Instonians on the road against a very committed Clonmel side who managed the whole 2nd half brilliantly with a player down. It would be no surprise if Clonmel ended up in the play offs at the end of the season given their performance today. As for Instonians we took another step towards our goal. It is now 7 from 7 and it is still the old mantra of 1 game at a time as we look forward to welcoming Middleton from Cork to Shaws Bridge next week 3 December. The pre match lunch for 100 people has been sold out for quite some time but we would welcome all support whether regular or new to the game next week.

As for MOM there were several good performances today including Bevan Prinsloo in the centre, Shalk Van Derwe at prop and Matthew Keane on the left wing but on his 101st appearance in the AIL today Paul Pritchard is thoroughly deserving of this week’s award.

With Tullamore winning their 6th game in a row and remaining just 8 points behind Instonians in the league there is no margin for error so all eyes are on Midleton next Saturday 3 December at Shaws Bridge . See you there.