Header2014 IRFC

1st XV win 47-13 at home to Midleton


Photos from Front Row Union

All Ireland League 2C: Instonians 47 Midleton 13 – The Front Row Union Sport

On Saturday 3 December 2022 Instonians welcomed Midleton to Shaws Bridge looking to continue their winning form and maintain their position at the top of AIL 2C. The weather was dry with hardly any wind so perfect for running rugby. The effervescent Midelton president Con Walsh and his travelling party of rugby committee members were warmly welcomed to a packed out pre match lunch. The theme for the lunch was One Club – 3 sports as Instonians celebrated the current status of the cricket, men’s and ladies hockey and rugby sections in Ireland. This was the 3rd Munster opposition in a row for Instonians following tough encounters against Bruff at home and Clonmel away and they were expecting more of the same against a Midelton side that were right in the frame for the end of season play offs.

14:30 – Instonians kicked off and Midleton immediately took the game to the home side looking to move the ball wide to test the Instonian defence. When Instonians got their hands on the ball they did exactly the same but lost the ball in contact to give the 1st scrum to Midelton and an early chance to see how Midleton would deal with Instonians powerful scrum. The travelling Midelton support will have been delighted to see the 1st scrum penalty go to their side for Instonians collapsing the scrum on their tight head side. This gave the Midleton out half a chance to kick for goal in centre field on the Instonian 10 metre line. His kick was dead straight but just did not have the legs and Matthew Keane cleared to the Instonian 22 metre line from under his own posts.

14.38 – Instonians 7 – Midleton 0

Midelton’s first line out was very impressive as Instonians got a taste of their own medicine with a driving maul right out of their own playbook which took the visitors towards the Instonians line where their open side fed their young scrum half on the blind side but Rhys O’Donnell was aware to the danger and tackled his opposite number. Midelton were not finished yet though and recycled the ball left towards the Instonians posts threatening the Instonians try line again. Midleton threw a long pass to the left wing looking to put him in in the far left hand corner but Instonian full back Jonathan Milliken had read the play and intercepted and raced up the touchline to near the half way line and intelligently kicked ahead into open space in the midfield where quick thinking from Ruari O’Farrell as he chose not to slow down and try to pick up the ball but rather kicked the ball on into the Midleton 22 as he had Rhys O’Donnell and Bevan Prinsloo sprinting through ahead of the Midleton cover with the ball bouncing up into Bevan’s hands and completely against the run of play Instonians had the lead. Jonathan Milliken deserved the easy extra points for his superb intercept.

14.40 – Instonians 7 – Midleton 5  

Midelton will have been very disappointed to be behind but simply dusted themselves down and went straight back on the attack. For their part Instonians seemed to have temporarily switched off as the combination of powerful running with ball in hand from Midleton combined with a series of missed tackles from Instonians meant that the Midleton out half squeezed over in the left hand corner. A difficult touch line conversion was missed but Midleton were deservedly on the board.

14:45 – Instonians 14 – Midleton 5  

Spurred on by that try Midelton continued to move the ball wide and test the Instonian defence which held firm as they made a lot of tackles. Instonians then got their hands on the ball and responded with good continuity of their own which ended up with Midleton being penalised at the breakdown on the halfway line. Matthew Keane kicked to touch on the Midleton 22 metre line on Instonians right hand side of the pitch. Instonians used their driving maul and then quickly transferred the ball left making ground deep into the Midleton 22 when the visitors were penalised again at the breakdown. Instonians kicked to the corner 5 metres from the Midleton line on Instonians left hand side of the pitch and once the ball was caught there was an inevitability about hooker Neil Saulters touching down for his 13th try of the season all of which have been from driving mauls. Jonathan Milliken landed the conversion from the left hand side of the pitch.

14:47 – Instonians 14 – Midleton 5  

From the restart Instonians regained possession and having won another penalty at the breakdown, which was marched 10 metres further on for back chat, Matthew Keane kicked to touch on the Midleton 22 metre line. This time Instonians moved the ball off the top of the line out and slick transfer across the backline saw the final pass to Matthew Keane on the left wing but uncharacteristically he took his eye off the ball as he watched the position of final defender and he dropped the ball.

15:00 – Instonians 14 – Midleton 8  

With both sides having been penalised for interfering with line out jumpers Instonians used their penalty to kick to the corner 5 metres from the Midleton line and the expectation was Neil Saulters would get his 14th try of the league campaign but the ball was lost at the tail.

There followed a period of infringements for both sides with Instonians getting pinged for early pushes at the scrum and Midleton for crooked throws to the lineout. This disrupted the rhythm of the game.

Then from a Midleton scrum in the centre of the pitch just inside the Instonian 10 metre line Instonians got a huge push on driving Midleton back but they were penalised for not pushing straight and a fine kick from the Midleton out half sailed between the uprights to narrow the gap to just 6 points.

15:04 – Instonians 14 – Midleton 8  

Midleton were now looking dangerous again and were all very comfortable with ball in hand as they put pressure on the Instonian defence forcing a penalty at the breakdown. A great kick to touch gave them a good opportunity at 15 metres from the Instonian line on Midleton’s left hand side of the pitch. Not for the 1st time this season however Instonians stole the line out and Rhys O’Donnell cleared to touch just short of Instonians 10 metre line.

Another crooked feed to the line out gave Instonians a scrum and a quick transfer from the base of the scrum found its way to Bevan Prinsloo who made good ground before feeding Matthew Keane on the wing who was tackled into touch on the halfway line.

15:10 - Instonians 14 – Midleton 13  

From this line out Midleton got it right this time and attacked off the top making great ground and forcing a penalty at the break down and a yellow card to Bevan Prinsloo. A great kick to the corner 5 metres out from the Instonian line on Midelton’s left gave the perfect platform for a well executed driving maul which resulted in a try for their openside. The conversion from the touchline almost went over which would have given Midleton the lead and given their performance so far it would not have been unjust.

15:16 - Instonians 21 – Midleton 13  

Max Preston then came on for James Welling and immediately set about making some big tackles and Instonians then got successive penalties at the breakdown with Paul Pritchard to the fore as usual. Matthew Keane had a great kick for a line out 10 metres out from the Midleton line on Instonians right hand side of the pitch and a great driving maul forced Midleton to concede a penalty try and a yellow card for collapsing. This felt like a crucial try right on half time and the large home crowd were breathing a bit easier.

HALF TIME – - Instonians 21 – Midleton 13  

I doubt that the late penalty try would have changed the Instonian half time team talk as they would not have been happy with their 1st half performance. On the plus side they had a strong bench and also have shown on numerous occasions this season the fitness in this squad looking ahead to the 2nd half.

Midleton for their part will have been very pleased with their 1st half performance against the league leaders but disappointed to have conceded at the start and the end of the half resulting in a score line that was harsh on them.

Alan Whitten replaced Anton Lupari at half time in the front row.


15:21 Midelton kickedoff and after the initial exchanges their out half put up a Garryowen which Johnathan Milliken would normally take in his sleep but he took his eye off the ball and knocked on so Midelton had a scrum on the Instonian 22 metre line in centre field in a good position to attack. Alan Whitten had other ideas though and he helped the Instonian pack to demolish the Midelton scrum and the resultant scrum penalty was kicked to the Instonians 10 metre line on their left hand side of the pitch.

There followed a great sustained passage of play from Instonians using strong runners with Alan Whitten and Shalke Van Der Merwe to the fore and forwards and backs combining to produce excellent continuity of play which was forcing Midleton on to the back foot in defence.

15:28 - Instonians 28 – Midleton 13  

The penalty count was by now firmly in Instonians favour when Bevan Prinsloo came back from the sin bin and when the latest penalty was kicked out for a line out 10 metres out from the line on the Instonians right this gave them a perfect platform to go in search of the bonus point. Following a good driving maul with a penalty advantage being played Instonians controlled possession well as they moved the ball left to Mark Keane who showed a touch class to step back against the grain to run in under the posts without a glove being laid on him. The 4th try and bonus point was secure and when Jonathan Milliken added the simple conversion you felt that this 15 point gap was going to be very difficult for Midleton despite their being over half an hour left on the clock.

15:32 - Instonians 35 – Midleton 13  

Instonians were now like a different team and a great break out of defence by Rhys O’Donnell led to a pass to Matthew Keane on the left wing just inside the Midleton half which Matthew just could not hold. The ball went backwards however and at the next breakdown Instonians were awarded another penalty which Matthew kicked to the Middleton 22 on Instonians left. Instonians then showed good composure to keep hold of possession as they maneuvered the ball to under the posts and it was fitting that Alan Whitten got the touch down as he had been instrumental in the turn around in this Instonian performance in the second half. Jonathan Milliken added the extras.

Instonians were now in full flow and looking to run the ball at every opportunity with some great backline movements and great link up play between forwards and backs. The scrum was simply superb and particularly on the opposition put in.

To their credit Midleton kept playing and still looked to run the ball at Instonians at every opportunity but met good defence from Instonians with strong tackles from Harry Gallagher and Daniel Keane amongst others.

15:56 - Instonians 40 – Midleton 13  

Quick thinking by Matthew Keane, who had now moved to full back with Matthew Kilpatrick coming on to the wing, saw him get a 50-22 from just inside his half. Midleton did well to hold up the initial attack but after sustained pressure right and then back left across the pitch a delightful long pass from Daniel Keane, showing great vision and spatial awareness, to find Rhys Davidson to score his first AIL try in the far left hand corner. Matthew Keane had taken over the kicking duties but missed a difficult conversion from the touch line.

15:56 - Instonians 47 – Midleton 13  

Instonians saved their best to last however and the try of the day followed soon afterwards as a sweeping backline movement saw a wonderful long pass from Matthew Keane to his cousin Mark who sprinted on to the ball before passing to Matthew Kilpatrick who gave the scoring pass to the ever willing supporting run of Bevan Prinsloo who finished off under the posts. Matthew Keane added the extras.

To their credit Midleton did not lie down and from a penalty kicked for a line out just 15 metres out on their left hand side but a great chop tackle from Max Preston on the runner from the line out stopped the attack in its tracks.

As the final game moved into injury time Instonians were still trying to attack from deep with Rhys O’Donnell and Mark Keane both finding open space but when the final passage of play slowed to a halt Mark decided that was enough and put the ball into touch.

FULL TIME – Instonians 47 – Midleton 13  

This was another bonus point win for Instonians and well deserved but the score line is harsh on Midleton who put plenty into this game particularly in the 1st half. The away trip to Cork on 21 January will require Instonians to bring out their 2nd half performance for the full game but that is for later and the focus is already on next Saturday 10 December in Omagh where they are looking to end the first half of the league campaign with another win.

As for MOM it goes to a man who only came on at half time but was the catalyst to a much improved 2nd half team performance and that man is last year’s captain Alan Whitten.

With Tullamore winning their 7th game in a row and remaining just 9 points behind Instonians in the league there is no margin for error with a visit to Tullamore on the last day of the season still in the rear view mirror. Next up is Omagh at the Thomas Melon playing fields and the mantra has not changed , 1 more win.