AIL: Highfield come from behind to dig out a win over Naas

Cork outfit are driving towards the Division 1A playoffs
AIL: Highfield come from behind to dig out a win over Naas

Highfield's Amhlaoibh Porter gets the ball to Eoin Keating against Naas during the Energia AIL Division 1B game at Woodleigh Park. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Highfield 21 Naas 7

HIGHFIELD continued their push for a playoff place in Division 1A of the Energia All Ireland League with a hard-earned win over gritty Naas side at Woodleigh Park.

The Kildare side who had nothing to play for pushed Highfield all the way and denied the home side a bonus point victory, that would have secured them their place in the playoffs.

Highfield now travel to Banbridge in their final game knowing that a point will be enough to book their place in the playoffs, against a side battling relegation with UCC.

Both sides found the strong cross-field wind difficult to deal with, which resulted in several errors, especially at the lineout.

Highfield dominated territorially for long periods but found the visitors’ defence difficult to deal with.

Highfield's Liam McCarthy holds off Naas winger Donal Conroy. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Highfield's Liam McCarthy holds off Naas winger Donal Conroy. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

With most of the opening quarter played in the visitors’ half, Nass relied on long-range kicks to clear their lines.

Highfield full-back Sean Quaid looked very confident under the high ball and with James Taylor and Liam McCarthy probing for gaps, the visitors were on the back foot.

Against the run of play, Naas jumped into a 7-0 lead with their first attack in the 25th minute.

Following a lineout in the Highfield half, which David Benn won, the Naas pack mauled forward and when the ball was released winger Donal Conroy found a gap and raced through the defence to touch down and Craig Ronaldson converted.

Highfield’s response was instant and within three minutes the sides were level.

From the restart, the Highfield pack laid siege to the Naas goal line and after several drivers at the line, Robert Murphy crashed over and Taylor converted to tie the scores.

Naas came more into the game in the final ten minutes of the opening half, with Conroy proving elusive with ball in hand and their pack began to gain ground with mauls from lineouts, but the home side held firm.

Highfield began to kick for territory at the start of the second half and the nearest they came to a score was a long-range penalty from Taylor that drifted the wrong side of the posts.

Constant Highfield pressure was eventually rewarded on fifty-eight minutes when following a lineout that Sean Garrett won, they mauled the ball towards the Naas line and Eoin Keating was credited with the touchdown, which Taylor converted for a 14-7 lead.

Ten minutes from time Highfield extended their advantage with a brilliant individual try by Mia Cronin. The number eight gathered the ball on the forty-meter line and raced way to touch down and Taylor added the extras.

Highfield never came close to getting the bonus point as Naas closed the game out.

Scorers for Highfield: R Murphy, E Keating, M Cronin tries, J Taylor 3 cons.

Naas: D Conroy try, C Ronaldson con.

HIGHFIELD: S Quaid; B Murphy, L McCarthy, M Dorgan, L Kingston; J Taylor R Cassidy; C Buckley, T Coomey, D Fitzgerald; S Garrett, E Keating; D O’Connell, A Porter, M Cronin.

Replacements: R murphy, I McCarthy, J O’Callaghan, M Fitzgibbon, C Bannon, G O’Leary.

NAAS: B Croke; D Conroy, C Sheridan, H Smith, F Higgins; C Ronaldson, O Cawley; A Coyle, C Doyle, P King; P Monahan, D Benn; C Dempsey, W O’Brien, R Casey.

Replacements: T Dooley, S O’Shea, E Walsh, J Jr Kiripali,C Halfpenny, J Sheridan.

Referee: R Jenkinson (IRFU).

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