Rice College senior rugby team lost narrowly to Gortnor Abbey from Crossmolina at Ballina’s rugby grounds in Ballina. The day was perfect for a game of rugby in terms of weather, with the sun splitting the rocks. Rice College started the better of the two sides, dominating possession with Brenden Mac Loughlin making great inroads into the Gortnor abbey territory with some great runs. Rice College opened the scoring with a penalty early in the first half by out half Ryan Moran. Some sloppy play at break down and strict refereeing saw Gortnor Abbey get two kickable penalties both of which they missed. The game was seesawing from one side to the other with the abbey side getting the better of some of the play, but for some strong defensive tackles from the Westport lads, such as Chris O ‘Donnell and Peter Spellman.
Rice College score the first try in the second half when scrum-half Aidan Walsh darted through the abbey defences to score a brilliant try, this was duly converted by Ryan Moran. Rice College started to sit back on their lead though lost a player to a yellow card due to infringement at the ruck to which the referee was constantly penalising for. Gortnor abbey played their way back into the game. They scored a converted try to have the score 10-7 and then despite good defending form the Westport side, Gortnor abbey side finally got the try their pressure had warranted. The conversion was missed leaving the score at 10-12 with the Crossmolina side in the lead for the first time. Gortnor Abbey then capitalised on a mistake by Rice College to score a third try to stretch their lead to 17-10 with the conversion missed. Rice College regrouped and started to gain more possession and with it more territory. Scrum half Aidan Walsh scored his second try mirror image of his first with a brilliant break through the abbey defence to score. Unfortunately the conversion to tie the match was narrowly missed. Rice College desperately tried to get the winning score, but couldn’t string the decisive move together to break the Abbeys defence down. The referee blow for the final play and Rice College were left with a lot of what ifs and what could have been.
Better protection of the ball when they had it and a more phased continuity of play by Rice College using the more powerful forwards might have seen a better result.