AIL: Highfield far too slick for Malone at Woodleigh Park

Bonus point victory for the in-form side in Division 1B
AIL: Highfield far too slick for Malone at Woodleigh Park

Highfield's Ben Murphy slips the tackle of Malone's Rory Campbell during the Energia AIL Dvision 1B game at Woodleigh Park. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Highfield 24 Malone 3

HIGHFIELD continued their recent good run of form with another bonus point win at Woodleigh Park against Division 1B bottom side Malone in this Energia Division 1B clash.

Injuries and unavailability forced the home side to make several changes.

While the home side will be happy with the maximum point victory that keeps them in the battle for the play-off places and are just three points behind leaders City of Armagh, this was far from a vintage performance by the home side.

On a day that was ideal for running rugby, Highfield’s passing left a lot to be desired as they continuously knocked on balls from the start of the game to the finish.

Their next four games are against the sides that are battling for the promotion play-off places with them, and Highfield know that a similar performance will not be good enough if they are to get promoted.

Malone on this performance look certain to be relegated, as little was seen of them as an attacking side, and they rarely threatened the Highfield line.

Highfield ran at the Malone defence at every opportunity from the kick-off, but the final pass always went astray, as scores went begging.

Malone’s winger Rory Campbell was yellow carded after seven minutes for a deliberate knock-on.

Highfield's Robert Murphy is tackled by Malone's Ben Halliday and Neil Alcorn. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Highfield's Robert Murphy is tackled by Malone's Ben Halliday and Neil Alcorn. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

From the resulting penalty, Eoin Keating won the five-metre line-out and quick ball across the back line saw Luke Kingston touch down, which James Taylor converted for a 7-0 lead.

Malone were having the better of the exchanges in the lineouts, where Adam McNamee and Patrick Fullerton-Healey were prominent.

Highfield’s tactics of running at the Malone defence paid off in the 24th minute when following good work by Mia Cronin and Cian Bohane, Highfield forced a ruck close to the Malone line and Amhlaoibh Porter touched down for his second try which Taylor converted.

Malone replied immediately with a penalty from Campbell.

Highfield continued to take the game to their Belfast opponents but were being turned over quite easily in the mauls.

Highfield’s Ben Murphy made a great run up the wing breaking through several tackles, but instead of kicking the ball into an empty 22, was eventually tackled.

The home side did produce some flair in the final quarter, when Bohane, Gavin O’Leary and Chris Banon combined to send Liam McCarthy in for a try.

Highfield eventually secured the try bonus point, following a great run by Cronin, Porter was on hand to touch down.

With a gap of two weeks until their next outing away to Old Belvedere, Highfield know that a similar performance will be not good enough if they wish to finish in the play-off places.

Scorers for Highfield: A Porter 2 tries, L Kingston, L McCarthy tries, J Taylor 2 cons.

Malone: R Campbell pen.

HIGHFIELD: L Kingston; B Murphy, L McCarthy, C Bohane, G O’Leary; J Taylor, R Cassidy; C Buckley, R Murphy, D Fitzgerald; E Keating, S Garrett; D O’Connell, A Porter, M Cronin.

Replacements: N Downing, I McCarthy, J O’Callaghan, M Fitzgibbon, C Bannon, C O’Neill.

MALONE: A Bryans; R Campbell, J McMurtry, N Brown, M McGlynn; Y Omar, S Kelly; B Haliday, S Green, R Greenwood; A McNamee, P Fullarton-Healey; D Maxwell, N Alcorn, M Crothers.

Replacements: L Porter, J Caskey, J McAlister, Z Shore, S McMaster.

Referee: G Clancy (IRFU).

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