Highfield have the AIL Division 2A title in sight after derby defeat of Dolphin

Highfield have the AIL Division 2A title in sight after derby defeat of Dolphin
Highfield's Paul Stack reaches for the line to score a try despite the efforts of Dolphin's Tim Phelan earlier this season. Picture: David Keane.

HIGHFIELD are within touching distance of winning Division 2A of the All Ireland League after a 24-6 bonus-point derby win over Dolphin last Friday night at Musgrave Park.

A win next Saturday at home to second-place Cashel or six points from their three remaining games will be enough to see them playing in Division 1B next season.

Player-coach Timmy Ryan was delighted with his side’s performance. “We started very well but we just could not get over the line and stuff like that,” he said.

“They did well to defend their line." 

It was a typical derby — everyone was fired up to get going.

“In the first half there was so much space, we were trying to get the ball to the space without winning the actual contact line and getting over the gain line.

“We rectified that in the second half, playing into the wind, where we just held on to it. We lashed over the top of them and blew them away.

“Dolphin are a very good team, especially defensively. If you look at their actual points scored and points against, they are only the second-highest points-scorers but they are the fourth-best defence in the whole league.

“There is a reason why they are winning games and why they have got themselves back up the table in their last two or three games.

“They are well drilled, with Robbie Doyle and Steve Ford, but our lads stuck to structure and really got aggressive and got over the top and worked them in the second half.

“I felt we just out-worked them and we were more physical in the second half and that was what won us the game.

Dave O'Connell, Highfield, battles Ewan Strang and James Kennedy, Galwegians. Picture: Jim Coughlan
Dave O'Connell, Highfield, battles Ewan Strang and James Kennedy, Galwegians. Picture: Jim Coughlan

“I felt very confident that we would secure the bonus point as we got the ascendancy there in the last 15 to 20 minutes and they were tiring a bit. When we had the ball and it is greasy like that, it is hard to make tackles, because you are hitting guys and they are able to slide through you.

“We got good forward momentum and as long as we held the ball, they were always under pressure.

“Penalties came into the game in the first half and even in the second half, but we gave them penalties for stupid stuff.

“It gave them scores and field position, so we need to cut that out a bit better and do better ourselves.

“We played some really good rugby in awkward conditions, with the wind and a greasy ball.

“I thought we played some excellent rugby.

“So it is on to Cashel next week and we will go again there with the same attitude and determination.”

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