Header2014 IRFC

1st XV win 64-0 at home to Clonmel


Photos later from Front Row Union

Rugby Home – The Front Row Union Sport

On Saturday 28 January 2023 Instonians welcomed a Clonmel side that had won 6 of their last 7 games to sit in 4th place in the table and in the play off places. They were missing a few players with injury and so playing the league leaders away was not an ideal fixture for them.

It was great to welcome President Ian Cooke and his party to the pre match lunch where we had Ulster Branch President Philip Gregg (or Budgie as he is better known in Ulster rugby circles) and Kevin Beggs from the IRFU.

The conditions were perfect for running rugby. Dry overhead and no wind. On the anniversary of the famous Barbarians v All Blacks game back in 1973 would the large crowd be entertained with an afternoon of open running rugby in that very same spirit.

14:30 – Clonmel kicked off and from the outset it was clear that both sides were keen on moving the ball wide and keeping the ball alive.

14.45 –Instonians 5 – 0 Clonmel

After 15 minutes of both sides attacking and both defences holding firm Instonians were the first to threaten the try line with a great phase of continuity between forwards and backs but they were penalised at the breakdown under the Clonmel posts and 10 metres out for holding on. Clonmel will have been relieved as they kicked to touch just outside their own 22 but this was short lived as Instonians stole the line out and slick hands right along the backline put winger Matthew Kilpatrick over in the righthand corner. Jonathon Milliken was just wide with the conversion from the touchline but the league leaders had drawn first blood.

14.51 –Instonians 12 – 0 Clonmel

Then following a great drive up the middle of the pitch by no 8 Andrew McGrath into the Clonmel 22, scrum half Rhys O’Donnell quickly switched the play to the blind side to his half back partner Ruari O’Farrell who slalomed through the defence for a superb individual score on the right hand side of the pitch. Jonathan Milliken added the extras 10 metres in from the touchline.

15.09 –Instonians 19 – 0 Clonmel

Instonians continued to keep the ball in hand but their reliable lineout misfired a couple of times before 3rd time lucky off the top of the line out they won a very kickable penalty just to the right of the posts 10 metres out. They turned down the easy 3 points in favour of a scrum and no 8 Andrew McGrath picked up and attacked the blindside but from the next pass the ball was lost forward in the tackle.

Clonmel won their own ball at the scrum but instead of clearing the ball to touch and safety they decided to run the ball from their own line and knocked on to give Instonians an attacking scrum 10 metres out. This time the ball was moved swiftly from the base of the scrum and 2 passages of play saw good transfer of the ball to send Jonathon Milliken in for a try in the corner and he picked himself up to land a great conversion from the touchline.

15.12 –Instonians 26 – 0 Clonmel

That was a bad time to concede a try for Clonmel especially as it was self inflicted and it soon got worse as in injury time they received a yellow card for a deliberate knock on as Instonians ran the ball at them again and Matthew Keane put in another good kick to give a line out on the Clonmel 10 metre line on the left hand side of the pitch. This was the last play of the half and Instonians showed slick hands again going right and then a quick recycle left and a sumptuous kick out of hand by Ruari O’Farrell who had seen Matthew wide open on the left. Ruari dropped the ball on a sixpence and Matthew took it in his stride to touch down to great applause from the balcony. Instonians had got their bonus point try and Jonathon Milliken added the extras for good measure.

Fantastic finish to the half for Instonians but a few minutes this depleted Clonmel side will want to forget and they knew they faced an uphill struggle in the 2nd half.

HALF TIME –Instonians 26 – 0 Clonmel

The half time team talks will have been very different with damage limitation for Clonmel and making sure they remained focused and complacency did not set in for Instonians.

15.28 –Instonians 31 – 0 Clonmel

The crowd continued to be entertained with both sides continuing to throw the ball about and defences being tested on both sides and holding firm.

Instonians in particular wanted to play the game at a high tempo with scrum half Rhys O’Donnell taking quick tap penalties and everyone wanting their hands on the ball. The stretched Clonmel defence conceded a scrum to Instonians inside the Clonmel 22 and a great controlled push took play to the line where simple hands from Rhys O’Donnell to Mark Keane and then Jonathon Milliken saw the full back get his 2nd try in the far right hand corner which he just failed to convert from the touchline.

To their credit Clonmel went on the attack and were able to apply a concerted amount of pressure on the Instonian defence to take play within 10 metres of the Instonian line but a great tackle from Robert Whitten and then a follow up jackal from Paul Pritchard prevented a potential try.

15.39 –Instonians 38 – 0 Clonmel

Instonians were now running the ball from everywhere and following a great passage of play between forwards and backs Robert Whitten took off like a gazelle to run in on the far left had side of the pitch from outside the Clonmel 22 metre line.

You felt for Clonmel at this stage as although they showed great commitment and courage to defend and counter attack when they could Instonians were in the mood for more tries and playing champagne rugby for the appreciative crowd.

15.45 –Instonians 43 – 0 Clonmel

Then following a great break up the middle of the pitch from Max Preston into the Clonmel 22 a quick recycle of the ball saw Ruari O’Farrell kick to the corner for Jonathon Milliken to gather the ball and beat his man to complete his hat trick of tries in the far right hand corner. Jonathon then hit the crossbar with the conversion.

By now the question was could Instonians reach 50 points again and maintain their clean sheet as they had done against Omagh in their last home match.

15.48 –Instonians 50 – 0 Clonmel

The first question was answered very quickly as following another sweeping attack into the Clonmel 22 Rhys O’Donnell showed his trade mark show and go to glide in under the posts giving Jonathon Milliken the easiest of conversions and Instonians had reached 50 points.

15.53 –Instonians 57 – 0 Clonmel

There was no let up now from Instonains as they were dominating possession, playing the game at a high tempo and keeping the ball alive at all times. After another great passage of play Rhys Davidson went over in the left hand corner and Jonathon Milliken converted from the touchline.

15.58 –Instonians 64 – 0 Clonmel

Instonians were not finished yet though and following great hands again with everyone wanting the ball it was Bevan Prinsloo who dived over close to the posts. The easy conversion from Jonathon Milliken signalled the end of the match.

FULL TIME –Instonians 64 – 0 Clonmel

This was a hard day at the office for a depleted Clonmel side but they simply need to put it behind them and remind themselves that they have won 6 of their last 8 games and remain in the play off places.

For Instonians their best performance of the season last week in the muck away to a spirited Midleton side has now been replaced by the complete performance today. They showed that they they do not have to rely on their strong set piece and there were no driving maul tries scored today.

Thanks to the referee for allowing the game to flow and it certainly was a spectacle of open rugby that the home support will have enjoyed immensely.

MOM today simply has to go to a back and the 2 contenders were Ruari O’Farrell at 10 who played with his head up and pulled the strings while also scoring a great individual try and Jonathon Milliken who scored a hat trick of tries and landed a few excellent touchline conversions. It feels unfair for either to miss out so it is a shared award this week.

With Instonians now 12 wins from 12 and all with bonus points at the top of the league you have to give the squad and the coaching staff the utmost credit with two thirds of the league campaign gone. There is now a break from league action for 2 weeks and a welcome distraction next week with a Senior Cup match against Belfast Harlequins at Shaws Bridge. All support is very welcome.

It was also interesting to note that on the same day that RBAI advanced to the quarter final of the schools cup that 9 ex RBAI boys were in the starting line up for Instonians today. The link with RBAI remains very strong.