Header2014 IRFC

1st XV win 86-7 at home to Dolphin 1st XV


On Saturday 20 January 2024 Instonians welcomed Dolphin President Ger Hodkinson and his party to a very enjoyable pre match lunch at Shaws Bridge with the 2nd XV making the most of a rare Saturday off and looked after by Mr. Instonians Ken Keane.

Dolphin were off the back of a fine win over Malahide the week before despite playing with 13 men for nearly the whole 2nd half. They were now on equal points with Belfast Harlequins and Skerries at the foot of the table and only 1 point behind Malahide.

Instonians were still being chased hard at the top of the table by Galway Corinthians and Wanderers and will have been very disappointed by their 2nd half performance the previous week at Belfast Harlequins when after winning the 1st half 5 tries to 1 they subconsciously appeared to take their foot off the pedal to only win by 6 points in the end. The word in the camp was that they had not been great the week before but would be better this week. Time would tell.

14:30 Instonians 0 – Dolphin 0

It was dry overhead as Instonians kicked off playing towards the road and into the moderate wind. And what a kickoff it was from Ruari O’Farrell with the ball bouncing into touch just 5 metres short of the Dolphin line on Instonians right. Dolphin won their line out and used the wind to kick the ball deep. Instonians ran the ball back and showed good continuity until penalized at the breakdown allowing Dolphin to kick to touch.

14:36 Instonians 7 – Dolphin 0

When Dolphin again used the wind to kick for territory, David Whitten ran back into his own 22 and dived to gather the ball on the ground and immediately set off on a counterattack brushing off the 1st Dolphin chaser.

From the next phase Instonians released their backline and superb hands across the pitch to the right and excellent passes back inside and then out again created space for centre Bevan Prinsloo to sprint clear and finish off a scintillating backline score in the right-hand corner. Ruari O’Farrell nailed a great conversion from the touchline.

14:45 Instonians 12 – Dolphin 0

Instonians continued to keep the ball in hand and attack into the wind but Dolphin were defending well. Then from an Instonians line out 15 metres out from the Dolphin line on Instonians right the driving maul was stopped illegally and Instonians kicked for another line out. This time the driving maul was halted just short of the line but Schalke Van Der Merwe was on hand to crash over 15 metres to the left of the posts. Ruari O’Farrell missed the conversion.

14:49 Instonians 17 – Dolphin 0

Then something you rarely see in rugby these days when scrum halves are allowed to feed their own scrum, a scrum against the head for Instonians on the halfway line gave Instonians the chance to flash the ball wide on the right and Bevan Prinsloo took off on a great break to score a smashing individual try in the right-hand corner. Ruari O’Farrell missed the touchline conversion.

14:52 Instonians 22 – Dolphin 0

Then very smart thinking from Instonians on the halfway line and in centre field as they called up Matthew Keane who shaped to kick to touch but instead took a quick tap penalty and made ground before feeding David Whitten who found space before passing to full back Bradley McNamarra whose fast feet and step saw him scorch up the left touchline to score the bonus point try in the left-hand corner. Ruari O’Farrell just missed with the conversion.

14:55 Instonians 29 – Dolphin 0

Instonians were clearly in the mood for more tries and everyone wanted their hands on the ball. After a great period of continuity between forwards and backs, they won a penalty at the breakdown 5 metres from the Dolphin line just to the right of the posts and chose the scrum option. As Instonians were pushing Dolphin over their own line the referee was already running round under the posts to award a penalty try.

15:02 Instonians 29 – Dolphin 7

At this stage Alan Whitten went off with an injury and was replaced at prop by Liam Kaprigiannis. Dolphin showed great character to keep possession and start going through the phases to take play inside the Instonian 22 where they won a penalty at the breakdown. They took a tap penalty and used their runners off the 9. Instonians conceded another penalty and the referee spoke to Instonian captain Mark Keane about his team’s successive infringements. Dolphin took another tap penalty and this time got over the line just 10 metres to the right off the posts. The successful conversion took the score to 29-7 with 5 tries to 1. This was almost identical to the half time score last week against Belfast Harlequins when it was 27-7 but you sensed that this week Instonians were really on it and this was just a slight setback.

15:06 Instonians 34 – Dolphin 7

So it proved as after a clever chip and gather over the Dolphin defence by Ruari O’Farrell, Instonians attacked with ball in hand and won a penalty at the breakdown at Dolphin’s 22 metre line. The kick for the line out on the left set up the platform for Oli Clarke to force his way over the line 15 metres in from the touchline. Ruari O’Farrell missed the conversion.

15:09 Instonians 41 – Dolphin 7

Instonians were playing barbarian style rugby now and another great backline attack from deep saw full back Bradley McNamarra show another string to his bow with a great change of pace when he sprinted, then slowed up for a split second and then took off again to leave his marker trailing in his wake as he sped up the left touchline to dive over in the corner. Ruari O’Farrell then nailed the conversion from the touchline.

15:11 Instonians 46 – Dolphin 7

There was just about time for the kickoff but unfortunately for Dolphin it went straight out and Instonians had a scrum on halfway on the last play. An impressive, planned move off the scrum saw scrum half Rhys O’Donnell loop round and take the return pass and then feed Bradley McNamarra to this time sprint down the right touchline to score in the corner and complete his hattrick. Ruari O’Farrell missed the conversion from the touchline and the referee blew for half time.

HALF TIME –Instonians 46 – Dolphin 7

This 1st half performance into the wind must be one the best seen in club rugby for quite some time. The players, coaching staff and management were true to their word when they said that they had not been great at Belfast Harlequins last week in the 1st game back after the Xmas break and that they would be better this week. How much better though, this was on a different level.

Dolphin to their credit had defended manfully and took their opportunity to get on the scoreboard but they simply could not handle the waves of attack coming from Instonians with such slick distribution and great support play. They had a long afternoon ahead of them before their long trek back to Cork.

Instonians emptied the rest of their bench at half time as they turned to play towards the far car park.

15:17 Instonians 46 – Dolphin 7

Dolphin kicked off into the wind, hoping to stem the tide and see if they could get the next score.

15:22 Instonians 53 – Dolphin 7

Instonians had other ideas however, and after another excellent period of continuity with forwards and backs linking to great effect, Paul Pritchard managed to get over close to the posts with Richie McMaster adding the extras.

15:28 Instonians 60 – Dolphin 7

Instonians went straight back on the attack and when they got a scrum just outside the Dolphin 22 they again executed an excellent back line move this time to the left and Matthew Keane was the beneficiary on the left wing as he went round his opposite number and round towards the posts. Richie McMaster added the extras.

15:42 Instonians 67 – Dolphin 7

The free scoring then took a back seat for a while as Dolphin showed good character to defend well and take the opportunity to attack themselves when the opportunity arose. Eventually however Instonians got over the whitewash again and what a score it was. Yet again it came from the backs attacking from their own half and some great hands in midfield saw captain and right-wing Mark Keane burst free up the middle of the pitch and feed the supporting Rhys O’Donnell who crossed near to the posts giving his new half back partner Richie McMaster an easy conversion.

15:50 – Instonians 74 – Dolphin 7

The try scoring had not finished yet and after a great break from Matthew Keane the ball was quickly recycled for Ali Burke to score in the right-hand corner. Richie McMaster added the conversion from close to the touchline.

15:52 Instonians 81 – Dolphin 7

The flood gates were well and truly open now and Instonians went through another great passage of play with forwards and backs linking and then super hands from the backs saw Matthew Keane speed over in the left-hand corner to complete his hattrick. Again, Richie McMaster added the extras.

15:54 Instonians 86 – Dolphin 7

There was still time for a great individual try for Rhys O’Donnell as following his trademark show and go on the halfway line he took off up the pitch and then supported to take a return pass and dummied and jinked to get over in the far corner. Richie McMaster went very close with the touchline conversion and with that the referee blew his full-time whistle.


FULL TIME – Instonians 86– Dolphin 7

In such a high scoring game credit to the referee for letting the game flow. Credit to Dolphin for sticking to the task against such an onslaught and their focus will be on the teams around them at the bottom of the table and their fight to stay up.

As for Instonians this was a magnificent performance and a joy to watch for the home crowd. Great credit to players, coaches and management for this and producing such a spectacle for the home crowd.

MOM could easily have gone to the whole team or the whole backline given the expansive wide game that was played. Bradley McNamarra had an exceptional 1st half when he scored a hattrick while there were stand out performances from Ian Whitten, Bevan Prinsloo and Rhys O’Donnell but the award this week goes to Matthew Keane for his own hattrick plus his assists including the very smart quick tap penalty when everyone thought he was kicking for touch.

So Instonians head to Malahide next Saturday 27 January 2024 looking to maintain their 8-point lead at the top of the table to a very good Wanderers side who moved up to 2nd following Galway Corinthians defeat at Rainey. One game at a time remains the mantra, see you in Malahide.