LETTERKENNY RFC FIRSTS got into a spot of bother with the PSNI on Saturday last.
PSNI 20-0 Letterkenny RFC
Although on the wrong end of a 20-point defeat the Letterkenny team will feel aggrieved at not challenging for a losing bonus point and disappointed at not crossing the opposition try line.
With an ever improving defensive press and dominant scrum there were many positives to take out of the game. Try scoring opportunities were created especially in the second half and it just seemed to be one of those days were handing errors and loss of composure close to the line allowed the home side off the hook.
PSNI provide the opposition in the first round of the Gordon West Cup and with an improvement in the execution of the basics this Letterkenny side will be confident in reversing this league result.
Letterkenny conceded a woeful try within the first five minutes when the PSNI second row performed an outrageous dummy switch with his right winger to race home from 30 metres.
From the restart PSNI who started the game with a slight breeze behind them peppered the Letterkenny back three with a series of box kicks and Garryowens at every available opportunity to good effect. Being unable to clear their lines effectively Letterkenny spent much of the first half defending inside their own half.
Despite strong runners around the fringes of the ruck and through the centre the PSNI side were getting no change from a strong collective defensive effort well marshalled by Michael Foy with Gary Canning and John Anthony McFadden to the fore.
Shaun Dunleavy made up for a few years out of rugby with some great hits and a busy performance around the park. Everyone contributed to the defensive effort and it forced the PSNI into mistakes and ill-discipline with a 17-6 penalty count in favour of the visiting side.
From some penalty kicks to touch the extra few yards were sought and touch not found which undid the hard work done in winning the penalty in the first instance. Basic errors such as these kept the pressure on Letterkenny and PSNI scored their second try after moving the ball wide inside the 22, a grubber kick found space and was touched down for an unconverted try.
Letterkenny were denied a scoring opportunity when captain Terence Gallagher found himself in space on the left wing after some wide plays but unfortunately the pass to him was forward.
The half time score was 15-0 after PSNI kicked a penalty for offside. Letterkenny started the second half brightly but conceded an early try when PSNI hammered away at the fringes of the ruck with no success and then suddenly spread it wide on the left to catch the Letterkenny defence out for numbers.
The rest of the second half was a tale of missed opportunities for the visitors. Again Gallagher found space from a wide play, this time on the right, but the referee decided to bring play back for a PSNI offence rather than play the advantage. The normally reliable lineout misfired on a few occasions which relieved the pressure on the home side.
The Letterkenny eight worked incredibly hard to dominate at scrum time and with scrum possession seven metres out clawing back some of the 20-point deficit should have been a formality. Inexperience in control at the back coupled with some experienced back row play underneath the referees radar by the home sides back row led to another missed opportunity.
With time in the second half slipping away Letterkenny were still applying pressure inside the PSNI 22 but too often a handling error would creep in where a more patient approach would have paid dividends as line breaks were being made and holes punched in the home defence. With Gallagher sidelined with an ankle injury five minutes from the end PSNI had a scrum five metres out from their line.
Sean Deery stepped up to add his bulk to the forward effort and Letterkenny drove PSNI off the ball but managed to knock it on in a lunge for the line. Another 5m scrum for the home side was turned over and instead of driving PSNI over the line the ball was picked up one metre out and then knocked on a fews phases after to deny the hardworking Letterkenny side a deserved score.
An improving Holywood side are the visitors to Dave Gallagher Park this Saturday in what should be an interesting encounter as Letterkenny will be looking to bounce back with another good home performance.
Training continues on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-8.30pm. All are welcome.
Letterkenny Rugby Club in association with main sponsor Kelly’s Toyota, Port Road, Letterkenny.