Right on cue, the heaven’s opened up at the start of the game, with an
absolute monsoon leaving more than one spectator trying to remember ark
specifications. Powerful thunder claps and the occasional lightening bolt
just added to the apocalyptic feel of the game.
And apocalyptic it would be if we came out of the game with anything other
than a win. Earlier in the day, Ormstown upset previously undefeated TMR to
vault ahead of us for the fourth and final playoff spot. We needed a win
just to keep pace.
We came out as strong as the gale-force winds at our backs, with our
standoff Parky testing the Barbs back three with deep kicks and pinning our
opponents deep in their end. The pressure paid immediate dividends when the
Barbs took a penalty some 25 yards out and near the sideline. While Parky
missed the kick wide and short, an alert Ariane B. charged the kick down,
got a fortuitous bounce and never broke stride on her way to scoring our
A few minutes later, Parky got another shot at goal and this time her aim
was true. 8-0 Irish in the first 10 minutes.
The Barbs are having a tough year but the 15 players who put on the black
and white showed lots of character. Despite missing some of their veteran
players, they put us under lots of pressure — especially in the forwards.
Following a string of balls that we turned over in rucks, the Barbs scored
their first try and served notice that they weren’t going to roll over. It
was a very physical game throughout, with Ariane leading the charge for us
at inside centre where she dished out some ferocious hits and ran just as
With the weather getting worse and worse, ball handling became increasingly
tricky. Lots of knock ons led to what seemed like an endless string of
scrums. Instead of running lots of plays, we kept things simple by running
lots of trailers and picks and by trying to offload to supporting players
coming at pace. This worked like gang-busters midway through the half when
Ali, playing her first game at No. 8, made a big break up the middle on an
offload ball. Playing it perfectly, she saw the 2-on-1 in front of her and
passed to winger Karine for an easy try. Parky’s convert made the score 15-5
at the half.
The 2nd half started poorly for us, with Parky getting a boot in the face at
the bottom of a ruck and having to leave the game with a broken nose. Emily
came in at 10 after having played the full 2nd division game earlier in the
Again, the Barbs showed lots of fight and were winning lots of the physical
battles — especially in the rucks. A quick try by them made the score
Things didn’t get any better for us when Emily had to leave the game after
getting a bang in the head. We moved Monty from fullback (where she was
standing in for Ginny) to 10 and she filled in admirably.
After a slight respite from the rain, the skies opened up once again and it
really slowed the play as neither team was able to string together
consistent phases. As a result, much of the 2nd half was played between the
Then, as if by miracle, the rain stopped with about 15 minutes to play, the
clouds parted and we had the luxury of playing with a relatively dry ball.
This seemed to be more of benefit to us than the Barbs as we started
stringing together more phases and began passing with more confidence.
This led to one of the nicest team tries of the year, with our forwards
stealing a Barbs’ ball in a ruck in our end and Jessie feeding a
hard-charging Amanda on a trailer. As she is wont to do, Amanda broke free
up the middle, battering two tacklers and offloading to a perfectly placed
Ariane. Attacking the same channel, Ariane had only the fullback between her
and the end zone. With Alex supporting on her left and Amanda on the right,
Ariane froze the fullback nicely and dished off tp Alex who ran the last 30
meters untouched for the try.
Knowing that Ormstown had won, I ran out on the field and told them we
absolutely needed a fourth try to get the bonus point that would put us a
single point ahead of Ormstown. Never have my instructions been so quickly
and efficiently followed. One phase after the ensuing kickoff, Amanda blew
by a series of Barbs defenders and took off for a 50-meter jaunt to the end
zone. Final score: Irish 25 Barbs 10.