Header2014 IRFC

1st XV win 69-21 at Dolphin 1st XV


On Saturday 9 December 2023 Instonians travelled to Musgrave Park to play Dolphin for the 1st time in 30 years when a certain Declan Kidney opened the scoring for Dolphin before Peter Russell got the winning try for Instonians. Dolphin President Ger Hodkinson gave a very warm welcome to the travelling Instonian party before everyone was treated to a simply superb Xmas Dinner at the pre match lunch.

The 4G Musgrave pitch was in excellent condition and with dry conditions overhead and very little wind it was perfect for a game of open attacking rugby.

14:30 Dolphin 0 – Instonians 0

Dolphin kicked off and Instonians immediately showed their intentions to run the ball back from deep but Dolphin’s defence was good.

14:36 Dolphin 0 – Instonians 7

Even in the early stages Instonians had the upper hand at scrum time and when they won a scrum penalty in the Dolphin 22, the expectation was for a kick for a line out to use their effective driving maul but they choose to scrum again and as Dolphin were preparing for the Instonians pressure at the scrum, instead no 8 Gary Dillon picked up from the base to score on the blindside. Ruari O’Farrell added the extras with a good conversion.

Instonians attacked again and following another scrum penalty this time took the line out option but great Dolphin defence held out out on their try line. This was the pattern for the opening quarter of the game.

14:50 Dolphin 0 – Instonians 14

Eventually the pressure told when after a flowing backline move from right to left Ian Whitten gave a perfect pass to his youngest brother David (all 4 Whitten brothers started the match) who straightened and raced through to score from the 10 metre line under the posts giving Ruari O’Farrell an easy conversion.

14:52 Dolphin 0 – Instonians 19

Then from the kick off a brilliant individual try from Instonians talented young full back Bradley McNamara had the travelling Instonian support purring in admiration. He shaped to kick for territory just outside his own 22 but instead chipped over the heads of the onrushing Dolphin defence and when the ball sat up off the 4G pitch, showed great footballing skills to volley the ball up the pitch and win the chase to score in the right-hand corner. Ruari O’Farrell missed the touchline conversion but Instonians already had a sizeable lead.

This young Dolphin side did not let their heads drop however and showed they that they could run the ball too and immediately put pressure on Instonians winning successive penalties at the breakdown to kick for touch just 10 metres out from the Instonian line on Dolphin’s right. They won their line out and moved the ball left off the 9 with willing runners to take play right up to the Instonian line but a great jackal by Mark Mairs relieved the pressure and Dolphin had missed a chance to get points on the board.

The bad news for Instonians was that influential no 8 Gary Dillon had to leave the pitch with a neck injury. Eoghan Murphy came on and Mark Mairs moved to the back row.

Dolphin came back again and after another penalty at the breakdown they found themselves with another attacking line out 15 metres out. Impressive Instonian captain Robert Whitten stole the line out and scrum half Matthew Keane found a great touch.

Dolphin continued to get joy at the breakdown but were finding it hard to handle the Instonian scrum and when they did get good opportunities from their own line outs, Instonians disrupted them with Robert Whitten to the fore.

15:08 Dolphin 0 – Instonians 26

As so often happens when you do not take your opportunities you can get punished and that was exactly the case here. When the referee had penalised Dolphin and spoken to their captain about the state of the scrums, off the resultant line out Instonians moved the ball right across the pitch for centre Bevan Prinsloo to brush off would be tacklers to get the crucial 4th try and a bonus point. Ruari O’Farrell nailed an excellent touchline conversion.

15:14 Dolphin 0 – Instonians 31

Instonians were now running the ball at every opportunity and continuing to dominate the set piece. Dolphin defended very well but, right on the half time whistle, quick thinking from David Whitten saw him break blind on the Dolphin 10 metre and find right wing Simon McMaster who scorched down the touchline to dive over in the right-hand corner. Ruari O’Farrell missed the difficult touch line conversion.

HALF TIME –Dolphin 0 – Instonians 31


This 4G pitch was certainly to Instonians liking and with the match over as a contest it was simply a case of more of the same and trying to add to their try tally while maintaining a clean sheet if possible.

Dolphin will have been very disappointed that they did not score when they had got themselves in position to do so and will have been keen to get some points on the board to try to build momentum for their crucial double header with Malahide either side of Xmas.

Instonians made a switch in the backline at half time with the versatile Ruari O’Farrell changing from 10 to 9 and teenager Josh Eagleson slotting in at 10 with Matthew Keane taking a rest.

15:28 Dolphin 0 – Instonians 38

No sooner had the 2nd half started than the crowd were treated to a wonderful individual try from Ruari O’Farrell who dummied and swerved his way past a hoard of defenders from the half way line to score under the posts giving Josh Eagleson an easy conversion.

15:31 Dolphin 0 – Instonians 45

Both teams were intent on running the ball but it was Instonians who were the more clinical in their finishing as this time when the ball was moved right cross the pitch, David Whitten took a great line to sprint through and run round close to the posts with Josh Eagleson added the extras.

Ian Whitten, who had had a fine game, then took a rest to be replaced by Daniel Keane and one teenager replaced another at hooker with Jack Parkinson coming on for Ollie Clarke.

15:40 Dolphin 0 – Instonians 50

Dolphin then attacked again with ball in hand but a great jackal by Mark Keane in midfield gave Instonians the penalty on the halfway line and it was good to see the referee let Instonians take a quick tap and Bradley McNammara took off to score another brilliant individual try weaving past several defenders in the process. Josh Eagleson missed the difficult touchline conversion but Instonians had brought up their half century without reply.

15:42 Dolphin 7 – Instonians 50

Dolphin’s response was immediate and very impressive as they went through phases of controlled possession which they finished off in the far righthand corner for a great team score. A superb touchline conversion followed.

15:45 Dolphin 7 – Instonians 57

Instonians came straight back on the attack and a lovely pass by full back Bradley McNamara saw centre Bevan Prinsloo race away to score under the posts from the Dolphin 10 metre line. Josh Eagleson had the easy conversion.

15:48 Dolphin 14 – Instonians 57

It was now Dolphin’s turn again and after a very good period of continuity between forwards and backs they crashed over for their 2nd try near to the posts giving an easy conversion attempt.

Dolphin would now have been regretting not scoring in the 1st half when they were in a position to do so on several occasions. They now had just 10 minutes to see if they could add 2 more tries to earn themselves a losing bonus point.

15:57 Dolphin 21 – Instonians 57

Following more phases from Dolphin they got over again under the posts for an easy conversion and now it was very simple for Dolphin, just one more score and they would take have a losing bonus point to take from this game.

16:02Dolphin 21 – Instonians 64

They gave it everything and went through the phases again but a great jackal on the halfway line by prop Anton Lupari gave Instonians the penalty. Josh Eagleson kicked to touch for a line out on the Dolphin 22 on Instonians left and a platform to attack again.

From the next phase Ruari O’Farrell looped round from 9 to feed David Whitten who charged through to score under the posts and Josh Eagleson added the extras.

16:07Dolphin 21 – Instonians 69

With time running out Dolphin put everything into trying to get that crucial 4th try for a losing bonus point. They took play up to the Instonian 22 but Mark Mairs came up with great jackal and minutes later from an Instonian scrum on the half way line, Ruari O’Farrell again looped round and this time Josh Eagleson was the beneficiary as he showed good pace to run in under the posts and then convert his own try to end the match.

FULL TIME – Dolphin 21 – Instonians 69

This was a comprehensive performance by Instonians littered with quality individual tries but the platform was laid by a very strong set piece. They will have been slightly disappointed by conceding 21 points in the 2nd half but overall they were very impressive.

Dolphin will be kicking themselves for not scoring in the 1st half as you would not have begrudged them a losing point for the manner in which they responded with 3 tries of their own in the 2nd half.

There were serious contenders for MOM in the backline today with Bradley McNamara , Ruari O’Farrell and Bevan Prinsloo all putting their hands up, but it is a forward David Whitten who gets the nod for another stand out performance.

8 wins from 8 now for Instonians and all with bonus points. In golfing terms just 1 more match in the outer 9 before the league takes a break over Xmas with the back 9 to come in in the New Year. Their opponents next Saturday 16 December 2023 are Belfast Harlequins with a sold out pre match at Shaws Bridge and no doubt a big crowd on the balcony and along the touchline in festive mood. See you there.