AIL: Stuart Lee in devastating form for Midleton against Sunday's Well

Home side were in charge throughout, helped by Lee's impressive 23-point haul
AIL: Stuart Lee in devastating form for Midleton against Sunday's Well

Midleton's Jb du Toit tries to lay the ball off after he is grounded by Sunday's Well's Even O'Connell, during their AIL Division 2C clash at Town's Park. Picture: David Keane

Midleton 33 Sunday's Well 7

STUART Lee was Midleton's hero in their local derby with Sunday's Well. 

He finished with a total of 23 points that included a hat-trick of tries; helping his side to a convincing bonus-point victory.

Both sides started off the day pointless after their first games in Division 2C of the Energia All Ireland League, but Midleton looked the hungrier and more focused throughout and thoroughly deserved the full points.

Playing with a strong wind, Midleton dominated territory in the first half. The Well absorbed a lot of pressure and held the hosts scoreless for 30 minutes, Conor O'Brien stole a few line-outs while they also won several turnovers at the breakdown. The lively Rian Hogan set up Christopher O'Brien for Midleton's most promising break of the opening half-hour.

The hosts also had to play with 14 men for 10 minutes, after David Broderick accidentally collided with Jack McHenry's head. Under the new laws, Broderick was shown yellow, but Midleton continued to press. Hooker McHenry had to go off injured for the Well and his loss destabilised the Well around the set-piece.

With the pressure mounting, Midleton finally made the breakthrough after half an hour. They claimed a line-out on the 22, with the ball passed out to Hogan who surged beyond the Well defensive line. Midleton followed up with a series of strong carries; regularly powering over the gain line. After switching play back inside, Stuart Lee spotted a gap around the side of a ruck and picked up the ball to race in and he also converted.

Lee was also instrumental in Midleton's next score before the break. A promising attack seemed to break down as a pass to Lee went behind him. He still managed to cleanly gather the ball and with the Well defence racing up on him; he played a clever chip ahead. Gearoid Collins chased it and gathered it next to the line. Lee's conversion left the half-time score at 14-0.

 Sunday's Well's Dave Hourigan wins possession in the lineout against Midleton. Picture: David Keane
Sunday's Well's Dave Hourigan wins possession in the lineout against Midleton. Picture: David Keane

Despite playing into the wind; Midleton kept on the front foot early in the second half. Lee missed an early penalty; a rare blemish on his record; but did add another try nine minutes into the half. Another intricate passing move created space on the left wing. Lee was on hand to finish off the move; despite receiving a high hit that could well have resulted in a yellow.

Trailing by 19 points; the 'Well needed big inspiration and it briefly looked that Cormac Kelliher was giving it to them. He pounced on a loose kick to establish a rare attacking platform. Kelliher continued to carry powerfully and a series of penalties he burst through the Midleton line to crash over. Unfortunately for the visitors, he picked up a severe injury in the act of scoring that could see him out for a large patch of the season.

Fabien Loughrey converted but the loss of Kelliher hampered any Well comeback; as unlikely as it was anyway. Their one bright spot for the remainder of the game was the scrum; an area that effectively cost them in Bangor the previous week. Otherwise; Midleton continued to dominate.

Mark Hickey wrapped up the game and the bonus point with 12 minutes remaining while Lee rounded off a magnificent personal and team display with his third try after another impressive flowing move from the team in red.

Midleton will hope to follow up this display with another home victory against Omagh next Saturday. Meanwhile; Sunday's Well have a big encounter at home to Ballina who are also winless.

Scorers for Midleton: S Lee 3 tries, 4 cons; G Collins, R Hickey try.

Sunday's Well: C Kelliher try, F Loughrey con.

MIDLETON: J Power; R Daly, G Collins, A Malone, R Hogan; S Lee, C O'Brien; M Corby, P Kingston, T Sheehan; R Lehane, D Broderick; R Hickey, D O'Sullivan, J du Toit. 

Replacements: D Coughlan, C Smiddy, M Stanton, J Deady, C Lynch.

SUNDAY'S WELL: G Downey; S Keevers, M Daly, A Lane, R O'Donoghue-Kelleher; J Featherstone, F Loughrey; C Axson, J McHenry, M McCarthy; R Mintern, A Mintern; F Fhlannchadha, C Kelliher, C O'Brien.

Replacements: D Hourigan, E O'Connell, J Costello, A Lannen, R Geary.

Referee: D O’Riordan (IRFU).

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