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All Ireland final around the corner

7 Jul

While thousands party in Punchestown just a 15 minute drive away another event will e taking place.

Carlow rugby league will take on the reigning All Ireland champions the Treaty City Titans in Portarlington.

Both sides are currently undefeated having conquered all in their respective regions.

The Titans beat the Country Cowboys in order to advance to a stage on which they have appeared annually.

While Carlow cruised past Ulster champions Ballynahinch Rabbitohs in Armagh.

This will be the third time the sides have met in the final with Carlow picking up a win at the first meeting in 2008 before an Extratime drop goal gave the Titans a win in 2009.

This shapes up to be one of the greatest rugby league clashes to take place in Ireland.

Wales Make Impressive Start

11 Oct

By Gavin Willacy 
 
Wales put themselves in serious contention for a place in the Four Nations tournament in 2011 with this stunning victory in Glasgow. They inflicted a record home defeat on Scotland with 24 points in the last 12 minutes, Warrington winger Rhys Williams and Crusaders’ full-back Elliott Kear both scoring hat-tricks, while Gareth Thomas got his second try in international rugby league.
 
But it was Warrington star Lee Briers who pulled the strings for Wales, kicking Scotland’s full-backs and wingers into submission and earning the man of the match award for conducting their offensive display, even without his eight conversions.
 
No-one could have expected this scoreline. With the previous six meetings ending in three wins apiece, these are extremely well-matched nations and both teams were at virtually full strength. Neither side could afford to lose here, with daunting trips to France yet to come and that was reflected in the line-ups. It could be said to be the strongest Wales team fielded for almost a decade, and Scotland have rarely looked as good on paper with the exception of the 2008 World Cup. The Bravehearts included 11 players with Super League experience, Wales 14, including Gareth Thomas who was playing just his 15th game of rugby league.
 
As expected, Danny Brough and Lee Briers conducted the early stages but in a blustery wind, kicking was difficult to direct. Wales earned a breakthrough when scrum-half Danny Jones broke the line and fed Rhys Williams a try on the left. Briers converted for a 6-0 lead. But Williams dropped the kick-off and from the next set Hull KR star Ben Fisher scored by the posts, Brough converting. Elliott Kear broke the line on halfway to race clear and put Wales ahead again on 14 minutes.
 
But Wales had found Scotland’s Achilles heel: their back three failed time and again to deal with Briers’ high kicks. Rob Lunt dropped one and seconds later Kear was over for his second try, then Mark Lennon squeezed inside the corner flag to touch down another Briers kick. Soon after Lunt was failing to deal with another Briers bomb and Lloyd White bulldozed his way over, Briers’ conversion making it 26-6, a points a minute for the reigning European champions.
 
The game was almost over: Scotland needed something special and they got it, replacement hooker Andrew Henderson scampering across the line from close range twice in three minutes, Brough converting both to reduce the Wales lead to just 18-26 at the break.
 
But that was as close as Scotland got. Williams got his second three minutes into the second half and Thomas was gifted his second in five days from another mis-fielded Briers’ crossfield kick on 50 minutes. Fisher pulled a try back and the Dragons were on the backfoot with still 25 minutes for Scotland to get claw back another 14 points.
 
Instead the Bravehearts forced the issue, made errors and Wales punished them with four tries in the last 12 minutes from Kear and Williams – both completing their hat-tricks – then St Helens starlet Jacob Emmitt and, in the final few seconds, Jordan James. Briers’ 16 points haul disguised a masterful display with his kicking from hand and game management that will be needed again if Wales are to topple pre-tourament favourites France in a fortnight.
 
 
Scotland:
1 Rob Lunt (Doncaster)
2 Jamie Benn (Castleford Panthers)
3 Joe Wardle (Huddersfield Giants)
4 Kevin Henderson (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats)
5 Jon Steel (Featherstone Rovers)
6 Brendan Lindsay (Sheffield Eagles)
7 Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants)
8 Oliver Wilkes (Harlequins)
9 Ben Fisher (Hull KR) (c)
10 Mitch Stringer (Sheffield Eagles)
11 Alex Szostak (Sheffield Eagles)
12 Sam Barlow (Halifax)
13 Dale Ferguson (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats)
 
Subs:
14 Andrew Henderson (Sheffield Eagles)
15 Neil Lowe (Hunslet Hawks)
16 Paddy Coupar  (Workington Town)
17 Jack Howieson (Sheffield Eagles)
 
Tries: Fisher (10, 55), A Henderson (34, 37)
Goals: Brough 3/4
 
 
Wales:
1 Elliot Kear (Crusaders)
2 Mark Lennon (Cronulla Sharks)
3 Christiaan Roets (South Wales Scorpions)
4 Gareth Thomas (Crusaders)
5 Rhys Williams (Warrington Wolves)
6 Lee Briers (Warrington Wolves) (c)
7 Danny Jones (Keighley Cougars)
8 Jordan James (Crsuaders)
9 Lloyd White (Crusaders)
10 Jacob Emmitt (St Helens)
11 Chris Beasley (Central Queensland Comets)
12 Aled James (South Wales Scorpions)
13 Ian Webster (Central Queensland Comets)
Subs:
14 Ben Flower (Crusaders)
15 Gil Dudson (Crusaders)
16 Jordan Ross (York City Knights)
17 Neil Budworth (Mackay Cutters)
 
Tries: Williams (5, 43, 71), Kear (14, 18, 68), Lennon (21), White (25), Thomas (50), Emmitt (75), James (80).
 
Goals: Briers 8/11.
 
Attendance: 787
 
Referee: Thierry Alibert (France)By Gavin Willacy
 
 
Wales put themselves in serious contention for a place in the Four Nations tournament in 2011 with this stunning victory in Glasgow. They inflicted a record home defeat on Scotland with 24 points in the last 12 minutes, Warrington winger Rhys Williams and Crusaders’ full-back Elliott Kear both scoring hat-tricks, while Gareth Thomas got his second try in international rugby league.
 
But it was Warrington star Lee Briers who pulled the strings for Wales, kicking Scotland’s full-backs and wingers into submission and earning the man of the match award for conducting their offensive display, even without his eight conversions.
 
No-one could have expected this scoreline. With the previous six meetings ending in three wins apiece, these are extremely well-matched nations and both teams were at virtually full strength. Neither side could afford to lose here, with daunting trips to France yet to come and that was reflected in the line-ups. It could be said to be the strongest Wales team fielded for almost a decade, and Scotland have rarely looked as good on paper with the exception of the 2008 World Cup. The Bravehearts included 11 players with Super League experience, Wales 14, including Gareth Thomas who was playing just his 15th game of rugby league.
 
As expected, Danny Brough and Lee Briers conducted the early stages but in a blustery wind, kicking was difficult to direct. Wales earned a breakthrough when scrum-half Danny Jones broke the line and fed Rhys Williams a try on the left. Briers converted for a 6-0 lead. But Williams dropped the kick-off and from the next set Hull KR star Ben Fisher scored by the posts, Brough converting. Elliott Kear broke the line on halfway to race clear and put Wales ahead again on 14 minutes.
 
But Wales had found Scotland’s Achilles heel: their back three failed time and again to deal with Briers’ high kicks. Rob Lunt dropped one and seconds later Kear was over for his second try, then Mark Lennon squeezed inside the corner flag to touch down another Briers kick. Soon after Lunt was failing to deal with another Briers bomb and Lloyd White bulldozed his way over, Briers’ conversion making it 26-6, a points a minute for the reigning European champions.
 
The game was almost over: Scotland needed something special and they got it, replacement hooker Andrew Henderson scampering across the line from close range twice in three minutes, Brough converting both to reduce the Wales lead to just 18-26 at the break.
 
But that was as close as Scotland got. Williams got his second three minutes into the second half and Thomas was gifted his second in five days from another mis-fielded Briers’ crossfield kick on 50 minutes. Fisher pulled a try back and the Dragons were on the backfoot with still 25 minutes for Scotland to get claw back another 14 points.
 
Instead the Bravehearts forced the issue, made errors and Wales punished them with four tries in the last 12 minutes from Kear and Williams – both completing their hat-tricks – then St Helens starlet Jacob Emmitt and, in the final few seconds, Jordan James. Briers’ 16 points haul disguised a masterful display with his kicking from hand and game management that will be needed again if Wales are to topple pre-tourament favourites France in a fortnight.
 
 
Scotland:
1 Rob Lunt (Doncaster)
2 Jamie Benn (Castleford Panthers)
3 Joe Wardle (Huddersfield Giants)
4 Kevin Henderson (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats)
5 Jon Steel (Featherstone Rovers)
6 Brendan Lindsay (Sheffield Eagles)
7 Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants)
8 Oliver Wilkes (Harlequins)
9 Ben Fisher (Hull KR) (c)
10 Mitch Stringer (Sheffield Eagles)
11 Alex Szostak (Sheffield Eagles)
12 Sam Barlow (Halifax)
13 Dale Ferguson (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats)
 
Subs:
14 Andrew Henderson (Sheffield Eagles)
15 Neil Lowe (Hunslet Hawks)
16 Paddy Coupar  (Workington Town)
17 Jack Howieson (Sheffield Eagles)
 
Tries: Fisher (10, 55), A Henderson (34, 37)
Goals: Brough 3/4
 
 
Wales:
1 Elliot Kear (Crusaders)
2 Mark Lennon (Cronulla Sharks)
3 Christiaan Roets (South Wales Scorpions)
4 Gareth Thomas (Crusaders)
5 Rhys Williams (Warrington Wolves)
6 Lee Briers (Warrington Wolves) (c)
7 Danny Jones (Keighley Cougars)
8 Jordan James (Crsuaders)
9 Lloyd White (Crusaders)
10 Jacob Emmitt (St Helens)
11 Chris Beasley (Central Queensland Comets)
12 Aled James (South Wales Scorpions)
13 Ian Webster (Central Queensland Comets)
Subs:
14 Ben Flower (Crusaders)
15 Gil Dudson (Crusaders)
16 Jordan Ross (York City Knights)
17 Neil Budworth (Mackay Cutters)
 
Tries: Williams (5, 43, 71), Kear (14, 18, 68), Lennon (21), White (25), Thomas (50), Emmitt (75), James (80).
 
Goals: Briers 8/11.
 
Attendance: 787
 
Referee: Thierry Alibert (France)

Ireland Errors Prove Costly in Avignon

10 Oct

By Conor Kelly at Parc Des Sports, Avignon, France

A bumper crowd in Avignon witnessed France and Ireland clash in the opening game of the Alitalia European Cup.

An Olivier Elima hat-trick helped France to a 58-24 win over a defiant Wolfhounds side despite the Irish taking the lead early on.

Ireland started the game ambitiously passing the ball wide twice in the first set and nearly broke through when Scott Grix fed his brother Simon who broke two tackles before he knocked on in the tackle.

The French on the other hand looked to keep it in the forwards as they completed two sets without breaking the Irish defence.

It took just seven minutes for the scoring to be opened when Scott Grix spotted an overlap on the right hand side of the pitch and once more hooked up with his brother who made huge strides into the French half and linked with Liam Finn to find Sean Hesketh who crashed over the whitewash. Greg McNally calmly slotted over conversion to put Ireland 6-0 up.

It wasn’t long before France responded when they made the most of a John Gillam knock. Remi Casty crashed over from close range. Maxime Greseque added the extras to level the game at 6-6 with twelve minutes gone.

France took the lead on sixteen minutes when neat back play put Teddy Sadaoui over Ireland’s line. Greseque once more converted his kick to bring the score to 12-6 in favour of the hosts.

Two penalties in quick succession pinned Ireland back on their try line and Cyril Stacul forced his way over the line for France’s third try in a ten minute period. Another Greseque conversion, this time from the sideline made the score line 18-6.

Straight from the restart Tony Gigot found a massive hole in Ireland’s defence to set up Elima for his second. The conversion made the score 24-6 with just twenty four minutes gone.

Matt Ashe was introduced and he immediately made an impact with a superb twenty forty to set Ireland up with a great chance of pulling France back and that’s just what they did when John Gillam slipped over for his first Irish try. McNally missed the kick leaving the score at 24-10 to the French.

Jamie O’Callaghan then got in on the act as he bagged a try on debut when he latched onto a superb Liam Finn pass to power over. McNally once more put the conversion wide but the score was now closer at 24-14.

Ireland had a try chalked off with two minutes left in the half as McNally was deemed to be ahead of Simon Grix when he slid the ball through the French defence. This left the game at 24-14 to
the French at the break.

France started the second half with a score as Scott Grix once more tried to find his brother who dropped the ball into the hands of Gigot who ran in untouched to bring the score to 30-14 thanks to a Nicolas Munoz conversion.

Ireland fought back straight away but once more an unforced error gave the ball back to Les Blues.

With fifty minutes on the clock Andrew Bentley crashed over to extend France’s lead even further. Munoz’s conversion
brought the score to 36-14.

France made it forty when Elima went over for his second of the day once more Munoz added the extras.

Jason Baiteri then got in on the act when once more a penalty forced Ireland back. Baiteri smashed over from close range.

With the score a 48-14 it was looking bleak for Ireland who had not scored since he first half. But to their credit they continued to push the French.

Ireland’s error count was plain to see on the score board as all but one of the French tries resulted from either a penalty or a knock on.

With ten minutes left on the clock Ireland got their first score of the second half when Gillam bagged his second of the game. Another missed conversion left the score line at 48-18.

Scott Grix then created another try when he off loaded to Bob Beswick who then found McNally in acres of space. The full back cantered home and Liam Finn added the conversion to give the scoreboard a more respectable look at 48-24.

However, France weren’t finished and with five minutes left on the clock Elima bagged his hat trick to extend his sides lead.

He then added his fourth with one minute on the clock to round off the scoring at 58-24 in favour of France thanks to yet another Munoz conversion.

In the end France deserved the win but Ireland will be disappointed with the errors they made throughout the game.

France: Cyril Stacul, Frederic Vaccari, Jean-Philippe Baile, Teddy Sadaoui, Vincent Duport, Tony Gigot, Maxime Greseque, Jamal Fakir, Kane Bentley, Remi Casty, Olivier Elima, Julian Touxagas, Jason Baiteri Interchange: Andrew Bentley, Mathieu Griffi, Michael Simon, Nicolas Munoz

Ireland: Greg McNally, Tim Bergin, Simon Grix, Jamie O’Callaghan, John Gillam, Scott Grix, Liam Finn, Michael Hayley, Bob Beswick, Brett McDermott, Sean Hesketh, Luke Ambler, Matthew Fox Interchange: Brendan Guilfoyle, Joe Taylor, Wayne Kerr, Matt Ashe

Referee: Phil Bentham (UK)

Attendance: 14,522

Titans Remain at the Top after Victory over Exiles

22 Aug

By Conor Kelly at Portarlington RFC

The Treaty City Titans have been crowned 2010 Carnegie League Champions after a hard fought victory over a defiant Dublin City Exiles.

It took just one minute for the Titans to set out their stall. Lamaki Vaipulu returned the kickoff nearly fifty yards with a powerful run.

This led to Ireland ‘A’ Captain Brendan Guilfoyle crashing over to open the scoring for the Limerick side. Alan McNamara failed to add the extras to leave the score line at 4-0.

It wasn’t long before the Titans were back on the attack and this time James McDermott slipped through the Exiles defence to double his sides lead. McNamara didn’t miss the conversion this time making the gap ten points.

This sparked a revival from the Dublin men as they knew they needed to act quickly if they were to rescue their chances of a victory.

Carl Roche made valuable yards from the back of a scrum to get his side going in the right direction. He then was presented a glorious chance of reigning in the Titans but he knocked on over the tryline missing out on what would have been a certain six points as he was right under the posts.

Guilfoyle then doubled his tally when the Titans responded to the pressure and extended their lead even further.

The Exiles then got themselves off the mark when Brian Flanagan pulled the strings to guide them into prime field position which Columba Kelly capitalised on to touch down. Adam Hughes added the extras to narrow the gap to twelve points.

Kelly would then follow in the footsteps of Roche when he knocked on with the tryline at his mercy. But the Exiles were given a reprieve when referee Jason Craughwell awarded them with a penalty as the Titans defensive line had crept offside.

However, the Titans defence held strong throughout the Exiles onslaught and they maintained their lead.

Then Johnny Brown kicked into life for the Titans and gave them an added lead when he touched down which McNamara once more converted.

However, Flanagan then kept the Exiles within touching distance as Hughes once more put the conversion over the bar.

Drama came just minutes before the break when David Hogan was sent to the sin bin for the Titans. He was adjudged to have kicked out at an Exiles player and put his side under immense pressure for the opening moments of the second half.

The Exiles came out firing after the break and soon took advantage of the extra man as Kelly added his second of the day which was once more converted.

The game was beginning to get tense as the Exiles were closing down on the Titans but the reigning champions used their vast experience to hold onto their advantage.

McDermott added his second in this game of braces as he became the third player to score two tries in the game.

This lead to the Titans pulling away as two more break away tries from McNamara and Lamaki put the Exiles out of sight.

Cathal O’Reilly got in on the act as well as the Titans lead was mounting.

However, much to their credit Richard Egan’s men never gave up and their hard efforts were rewarded when Carl De Chenu got a well deserved try which substitute Tyrone Taiepa knocked over to put a more respectable look to the scoreline.

They continued to push on in the final moments as they looked to close the gap further but it would be the Titans who would have the last laugh when Brian Farrell forced his way over to cap a fantastic final.

It would be a fifth Carnegie League title for the side from Limerick while the Exiles could go home with their heads held high from a thrilling encounter.

Final Score Treaty City Titans 52-24 Dublin City Exiles

Treaty City Titans: Alan McNamara, Ronan O’Callaghan, John Brown, Lemaki Vaipulu, Anthony Barry, James McDermott, Sean Carmody, Mark O’Neill, Darren Baxter, Brendan Guilfoyle, Aaron McCluskey, Mark Hanrahan, David Hogan Interchange: Diarmuid Waters, Cathal O’Reilly, Paul Allen, John Barrett, Colin Treacy, Dafital Toia, Brian Farrell

Tries: Alan McNamara, John Brown, Lemaki Vaipulu, James McDermott (2), Brendan Guilfoyle (2), Cathal O’Reilly, Dafital Toia, Brian Farrell

Conversions: Alan McNamara (6)

Dublin City Exiles: Carl De Chenu, Columba Kelly, Graham Crawford, Adam Hughes, Brian O’Brien, Richard Egan, Brian Flanagan, Larry Faifua, Garrett Lawlor, Steve Szpara, Leo Auvaa, Michael Anderson, Carl Roche Interchange: Tyrone Taiepa, Jack Cullinan, Paul Bkay, Jon Anderson, Alan Trenier, Ian McCarthy, Wojtiech Sievkowski

Tries: Carl De Chenu, Columba Kelly (2), Brian Flanagan

Conversions: Adam Hughes (3), Tyrone Taiepa

Man of The Match: Lemaki Vaipulu

Referee: Jason Craughwell

Carnegie finalists decided

9 Aug

By Conor Kelly

This past Saturday saw the Treaty City Titans and thew Dublin City Exiles book their places in the 2010 Carnegie League Grand Final.

It will be a fourth Grand Final appearance for the Dublin City Exiles after they overcame last years losing finalists, the Carlow Crusaders, in a tense affair at Tullow Rugby Club.

Only two points separated the sides at the full time whistle with the Exiles securing an 26-24 victory over the Crusaders.

In Munster it was a much more one sided affair as the reigning champions the Treaty City Titans ran riot over the Cork Bulls who were looking to get back to the Grand Final nine years after they won the innaugural final.

The Titans ran out 50-16 winners over the Bulls and will now role into Portarlington on the 21st of August with a chance of defending their crown against the Exiles.

Carnegie League Final Results:

Munster League:
Cork Bulls 16-50 Treaty City Titans

Leinster League:
Carlow Crusaders 24-26 Dublin City Exiles

Leinster and Musnter Divisions Inch towards Play Offs

25 Jun

With only two games left in the Leinster division its crunch time for a number of sides in their bid to qualify for the divisional semi final’s 

The Carlow Crusaders have all but secured top spot with thirteen points and will welcome their bye week as a chance to regenerate and secure their status in first place. 

Behind them three sides currently sit on eight points. The Dublin City Exiles, North Dublin Eagles and the Tullamore Knights are separated only by point’s difference. 

Athboy still stand an outside chance of qualifying although this is unlikely as they require one of the three sides above them to lose and for them to over turn a 140 point deficit. 

The pick of this weekend’s action will see the North Dublin Eagles travel south to the Tullamore Knights as the battle for second heats up. 

The Knights will be hoping that they can over turn the Eagles on their home patch to move themselves into third place in the table. 

Meanwhile the Exiles will also travel south when they take on the Portlaoise Panthers who have yet to pick up a win this time round. A win for the Dublin side should tighten their grip on second spot. 

The remaining fixture in Leinster see’s Athboy travel to Wicklow as they look to keep their outside chance of making the top four alive when they take on the Vikings. 

In Munster the play off outlook will be much clearer as all four sides still stand a realistic chance of finishing in top spot. 

The Treaty City Titans travel to Cork where they will be looking to get a measure of revenge over the Bulls after the first round defeat. A victory for the home side will give them great chance of finishing top of the table while a loss would see them slip to second. 

Full List of Fixtures: (All KO Times 2pm unless stated) 

Leinster: 

Tullamore Knights –v- North Dublin Eagles 
Tullamore RFC 

Portlaoise Panthers –v- Dublin City Exiles 
Portarlington RFC  

Athboy –v- Wicklow Vikings 
North Meath RFC 

Munster: 

Cork Bulls –v- Treaty City Titans 
Carrigaline RFC 

Ulster Prepares For Carnegie Play Off’s

25 Jun

 

All eyes turn to Ulster this weekend as they kick off the divisional play off’s with two mouth watering semi finals. 

The unbeaten Ballynahinch Rabbitohs will be focused on making their way into the Grand final when they welcome the East Belfast Bulldogs who have finished the regular season strongly. 

Coming of a victory over the Portadown Pumas the Bulldogs will be looking to become the first side to topple the Rabbitohs this season. 

The second final shapes up to be a tense encounter with the Fermanagh Redskins taking on the Strangford Sharks. 

Both sides are evenly matched and either could pick up their pass to the final in this clash. 

Anything can happen this weekend and it is the last chance for the top sides in Ulster to be in with a chance to be named best in the division. 

Ulster Semi-Final Fixtures: (KO 2pm Unless stated) 

Ballynahinch Rabbitohs –v- East Belfast Bulldogs 
Ballynahinch RFC 

Fermanagh Redskins –v- Strangford Sharks 
Enniskillen RFC