Sunday, February 16th at 3:00pm in Streamstown was truly a day for only the committed rugby fan. To give a sense of the conditions, imagine 50km gusts, cold driving rain and a negative windchill factor and add to this a soft, water logged pitch and you get a taste of the conditions facing the Roscrea RFC and Clane RFC teams that braved the weather for their scheduled leinster league clash.
By the end of this contest, as the players, frozen and covered in mud clapped each other off the pitch, both teams took a sense of achievement with them to the dressing room. Clane RFC can be proud of the fact that they gave Roscrea a proper test and indeed were leading at the break and despite being under pressure for large spells in the second half, they never relinquished territory without a battle. Roscrea RFC on the other hand, found it within themselves to turn the halftime deficit into a hard-earned win despite the conditions and a defiant Clane defensive effort. The reward for their endeavours was elevation to the top of the league and the prize of being masters of their own destiny.
The game started at a ferocious pace, with both teams vying to gain control and fight the weather simultaneously. Roscrea played against the wind in the first half and played a running and offloading game as the conditions demanded while Clane kicked for territory, invariably finding that the wind made kicking a lottery. Roscrea scored first as their scrum made gains 5 meters short of the Clane try line, with Roscrea no 8 Seamus Treacy eventually going over to make it 5 – 0 to the home side. The conversion was subsequently missed on a day where accurate kicking at goal was virtually impossible. After this Clane rallied scoring a penalty and after a series of drives towards the Roscrea line scored an a wonderfully opportunist try after an attempted clearance kick was blocked down. At half time the score was 8 – 5 with Clane in the driving seat. Roscrea came out in the second half and immediately started to find territory with the swirling wind at their backs. John Carter and Malachy Maher who had an excellent game helped gain ascendency in the line out winning Roscrea and Clane ball on numerous occasions, with the Roscrea hooker Mikey Fitzgearld who seemed to be everywhere showing fantastic throwing accuracy in the conditions. The half back pairing of the lively Stephen Carter and Jake Lawlor who have an almost symbiotic understanding of one another continued to push the team on and probed the Clane defence where ever possible. It was at the set piece where Roscrea began to find some dominance with props Keiran Stone and Peter Hennessy in fine form and it was from the scrum that the 2nd and crucial score arrived. With the indomitable Seamus Treacy touching down after the pack pushed over the Clane line from 5 meters out. This brought it to 10 – 8 in favour of the home side. It was Roscrea who scored the next and final try of the game, in an almost identical fashion to the previous score with Seamus Treacy scoring his hat trick pushing the score board to 15 – 8. After this Clane regrouped and began to find a late foothold in the game, Roscrea head coach John Maher immediately sensed the danger and brought on some fresh legs and a strong defensive effort helped the Roscrea team see out the game.
Afterwards Roscrea RFC captain Ger Stone thanked the Clane team and their coaches for braving the elements and wished them well for the rest of the season. He also paid tribute to the supporters who endured the conditions to cheer on the team. Roscrea RFC now sit top of the leinster league division 3, they have 2 games left to play, visiting Ardee RFC on February 23rd before welcoming Swords to Streamstown for the last and season defining game of the year on the 8th of March.