Pace and Perfection
The 2s had the daunting task of starting their season with a trip to Magherafelt to face Rainey OB, the backdrop of a fierce AIL contest highlighting that we continue to punch well above our perceived weight. As is our trademark now, youth permeated the starting XV, as we continue the inevitable journey towards the author playing in a backline who weren’t alive when he first took up the game. Rainey also continued their own tradition of a strong pack and large backs, giving us little uncertainty over the game plan they would deploy. Fears of a forward-led rout from the hosts were swiftly quashed when Timmy McMullan carved through the opposition from the first set-piece of the match to give us an early 7-0 lead. A pattern quickly developed of Rainey using close carries to make yards almost at will, however the quality in our backline was such that all Grosvenor needed was a phase or two of possession to exploit a gap and create scoring chances. This domination in the back-field never more evident than in our scorers, with the following 5 tries coming from our back three (2 each for Jacks Kennedy and Ferguson, and a fine finish from Shane Johnston). Despite our final tally of 42 points thanks to the cultured boot of McMullan, the game never felt in our control due to the continued brilliance of Rainey’s carrying and offload game, which had our defence scattered on many occasions. By the final 10 minutes, both teams had secured try bonus points, and Grosvenor held a fragile 9 point lead. This is where our finest period of play came, even including the scoring exploits of earlier, as Grosvenor dug deep to bring the game under control, anchored around an excellent line-out led by Henry Ferris and Michael Smyth. Any further attacks from the hosts were rebuffed with composure and skill, ensuring that despite the dominance of the backs, it was a team effort that brought the 5 points home.
We were happy to see the accomplished senior debuts of three recent Grosvenor pupils in Jonny Allen, Harrison McNarry and Ali Norton. There were also notable performances from either end of our size spectrum, with Dan Whitcroft continuing to show remarkable development as a player in his first game at fly-half, whilst the welcome return of James Sims was marked by 80 mins of hard work and a stable scrum. However, man-of-the-match was a simple award for Jack Kennedy at full-back, who teamed stability under the high ball and strong defence with an electricity in attack that will surely be catching Fordy’s eye sooner rather than later.