IT WAS BACK to league action last Saturday when Letterkenny hosted PSNI at YM’s grounds in Derry.
Letterkenny 10-16 PSNI
Despite having the majority share of possession and territorial advantage for a good part of the game the Donegal men ended up paying for their lack of accuracy when it mattered.
In contrast PSNI had very few line breaks but converted one of them into a seven-pointer and punished Letterkenny with three long range penalties to lead 16-0 at one stage in the match.
Photo caption: Letterkenny Rugby Clubs 1st’s team pictured here with their coaches Colin Farrell & Martin Mortimer, President of Letterkenny Rugby Club, Charlie Robinson and their main club sponsor Brendan Kelly from Kelly’s Toyota, Port Rd., Letterkenny.
It was credit to Letterkenny that they fought back to reduce the deficit by scoring two tries and managed to claim a losing bonus point.
PSNI started the game brightly kicking well in to the Letterkenny half. The situation was relieved with stolen ball in the lineout from second rows Dermot Dunleavy and Ben Mortimer, and any scrum platform PSNI had was disrupted well by the dominance of the Letterkenny forwards.
Letterkenny edged into the PSNI half but couldn’t sustain any pressure as their ball protection at the breakdown wasn’t up to standard and handling errors were letting the PSNI off the hook.
With a back three playing together for the first time, Letterkenny were exposed with long range kicks in behind them.
From a scrum outside the Letterkenny 22, PSNI launched an attack which was we’ll marshalled but when the play was switch the PSNI prop seemed to ghost between three would be tacklers to make a 20m line break with support on his outside to touch down for the opening score.
Letterkenny took the game to PSNI with strong carries by James-Lee McLaughlin and Gary Canning but the ball protection issues still pervaded and some ill-discipline allowed the PSNI to extend their lead through the boot of their scrum-half.
There were some good periods of Letterkenny pressure inside the PSNI 22 but a lack of composure near the try line saw players panic into making poor decisions. On more than one occasion the normally reliable lineout misfired where Letterkenny would have been expected to execute a simple catch and drive over the line.
More of the same was served up in the early period of the second half where PSNI were surviving on Letterkenny’s mistakes. The strong running PSNI No 6 made a clean break up the middle of the pitch with only full-back Seanie Henry to beat for a try that would have killed off the game as a contest.
Henry was more than equal to the task and cut the big blindside down, regained his feet to complete for the ball and helped his teammates win a relieving penalty. Letterkenny started to play with a little more cohesion after that and following a good period of sustained pressure inside the PSNI 22 Shaun Dunleavy crashed over to the left of the posts for an unconverted try.
Gareth McGill at No8 was making good ground from the base of the still dominant Letterkenny scrum but too often the next phase of play went astray due to a 50/50 pass or a breakdown in communication.
Winger Chris Peterson crossed for an unconverted try wide on the left just before the final whistle. The try was the result of some great interplay between the backs and forwards which saw scrum half Conall Sheridan switch the play cleverly to take advantage of the disorganised defence.
Unfortunately in terms of the final scoreboard it was too little too late. Letterkenny now have an opportunity to improve on this performance by ironing out some the basic errors and starting games like they finished this one in the next two league games.Tags: