Newry stun Cavan
Tuesday, 24 January 2017
NEWRY'S First XV extend their run of good form with a narrow win on the road against a tough Cavan side, writes Feargal Lewis.
Playing what can be best described as a quagmire, Cavan settled in to the game dominating the opening exchanges and securing an early try and penalty in the first five minutes as it seemed Newry were yet to come out of the changing rooms.
With some stern words from captain Collie Stewart and player-coach Taff Brown ringing in their ears, Newry upped their game and matched Cavan in every aspect as the game settled down and Newry began to find their feet.
Cavan then scored a second try off a clever set play then sat back and tried to protect their 15-0 advantage while trying to keep it tight and allow their forwards to bully their way around the park but the Newry pack were not conceding defeat that early and rebounded in great fashion as they hit their stride winning every line-out and dominating the scum.
A clever chip from out-half Cathal O'Neill caught Cavan napping and Tommy McDonald sprinted in behind the defence to scoop the ball and cross the line.
This was followed up by winger Dan Armstrong creating a score out of nothing, he cleared from his own 22, chased his kick deep in to Cavan's half where he snuffed out their attempted counter-attack, dispossessed their fullback and spread the ball wide to Dwayne Carlisle who barged his way through a few defenders before offloading to Cathal O'Neill who dotted down to make it 15-10 to Cavan at the break.
Newry emerged for the second half looking the fitter of the two sides which made a big difference as the forwards ground down the Cavan pack creating a great platform for Newry's pacey back line to create some chances, spreading the ball wide and cutting Cavan apart despite the conditions underfoot.
Cavan tried to play a compact game and grind out another score but with Darren McNally shoring up the Newry defensive line with an outstanding tackling performance and his cousin Cathal and back-rower Sean Farrell forcing turnovers at ruck time it meant Newry had the majority of possession and launched attack after attack in search of that all-important levelling score.
With Cavan on the back foot and the momentum with Newry the home side began to lose their discipline. A cynical slap down of a Dwayne Carlisle pass five-yards from the try line was adjudged by the referee to be worthy of a yellow card and a penalty try to Newry.
Playing against 14 men and chasing a bonus point try Newry knew they needed to stretch the Cavan defence and a slick backs move saw Tommy McDonald create a gap inside Newry's 22, running down the wing before offloading to winger Chris Hanna who slid in under the posts for his first senior try for Newry.
Cavan responded with a score in the final moments of the game creating a tense final minute but nothing came of their efforts as the game finished 24-22 to Newry.
With eight wins and a draw in their last 10 games, Newry welcome undefeated league leaders Ballymoney to Telford Park this week in what will be a huge test of Newry's new found resilience.
Tommy McDonald - 1 Try, 2 Cons, Cathal O'Neill - 1 Try, Chris Hanna - 1 Try, Penalty Try.
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