venue: Carlisle Grounds, Bray
16th October 2016
Full Match Report
Ireland continued the build up to the World Cup qualifiers against Spain and Russia by testing themselves with a tough fixture against the Reggae Warriors of Jamaica. The Jamaicans boasted a side brimming over with professional players and would be a much sterner test than that provided by Malta eight days previously.
With the qualifiers in mind Ireland rotated their run-on side, resting Casey Dunne and Sam Boyd and introducing Onisi Burekama and Shane Kelly to the seventeen. Prior to the commencement of the game a minute’s silence was given in respect to Munster Rugby Union coach Anthony Foley who sadly passed away the previous day.
The game commenced with Ireland kicking towards the beach end of the ground. Ireland conceded a high tackle in the first set and this gave Jamaica good ball inside their opponent’s half. They established an overlap and only a slip by Joseph Brown stopped them going in wide on the left, but quick hands and refusal to let the ball die on the fifth tackle saw the ball moved out to former Hull FC winger Richard Barnett and he went in on the right-hand flank with Jay-Mel Coleman adding the extras to make it 6-0 after three minutes.
From the restart Ireland were penalised again, this time for offside. Jamaica quickly sucked in the Irish defensive line and quick hands to the left saw Wayne Reittie put the ball into the hands of Joseph Brown when then fed his namesake Alex Brown, who went in on the corner. Another penalty from the next restart meant most of the opening part of the game had been played deep in Irish defensive territory and the Jamaicans nearly went in under the sticks but Joel Farrell lost the ball in contact and Ireland had the ball in their hands for the first time in the game. The Irish however couldn’t hold onto the ball and it was back in Jamaican hands.
Lightning fast play-the-balls’ by Jamaica gave them the opportunity for a two pointer but they chose to run the ball, offloading to keep it alive and to open up the Irish defence. The Jamaicans were dynamic and they added a further a try under the sticks by Jordan Andrade which was converted by Coleman.
The Irish finally got a reprieve when TJ Eamonn Whelan spotted a stamp and came on to report foul play, giving Ireland a penalty on the Jamaican 20 metre line. Hard running saw another penalty awarded for a high tackle 10 metres from the goal line and Ireland chose to run the ball. Chris Hall ran hard towards the try line and managed to work his way through the defence to ground the ball and give Ireland their first try with James Kelly converting.
There’s a saying that teams are at their most vulnerable after a score and a Jamaican kick from the restart caught the Irish out and saw the ball go dead in goal. The Jamaicans received the ball from the resulting drop out and worked the ball left but the Irish cover defence worked hard and closed them down. They seemed to have weathered the storm but a short pass from Farrell gave Jordan Andrade the ball and he burst through from close range to score.
The Irish were victims of their own ill-discipline and offered another piggy back for the Jamaicans early in the tackle count, from the restart. Quick hands again gave Barnett the ball 15 out and he was too cunning for the defence. Another two points from Coleman took them four converted tries clear.
This was a game that was quickly running away from the Irish and they needed to complete a defensive set where they didn’t concede either a penalty or a try; they didn’t manage the former and whilst they didn’t concede a try they did give their opponents another set of six and Farrell stepped through for an easy score.
The Jamaicans now had carte blanche to go through training ground plays and tried a forty twenty early in the next set. The Irish then Conor Mackey injured and taken off the field before a high tackle on the next play saw tempers frayed. This was quickly followed by the Jamaican defenders not being square and the Irish had moved downfield on the back of these successive penalties. The Irish were now 10 out and looking for their second score. The Jamaicans struggled with their discipline now and, after giving away another penalty for a high tackle, Farrell sin binned for dissent. Connor Phillips took advantage of a quick play the ball and dived under the goal line defence to give Ireland something to cheer about. Kelly missed the conversion but the Irish had worked hard and had a level of reward for their efforts.
Unfortunately, Adam Doherty then knocked the ball dead from the restart and the Jamaicans were returned possession. The Jamaicans punished the Irish with Ross Peltier crashing over from short range and Coleman adding the extras.
The Irish got inventive at the next restart and retrieved a short kick. They made good ground and James Kelly spied a gap on the fifth and tried a power play but the Jamaican’s scrambled well and the first half ended without further scores.
The second half started with a good set from the Irish but a great kick return from Alex Brown ended with the Irish penalised for a high tackle. The Jamaicans made great use of the ball and Lewis Bowman muscled his way through out wide left with the extra two from Coleman. From the restart Kadeem Williams flicked the ball into touch when a penalty would have been forthcoming for the ball going out on the full had he left it alone. The Irish then worked the ball right to an overlap where debutant Onisi Burekama strolled over. A marvellous set of big hits followed in the next set before James Kelly kicked for a 40-20 but ended up out on the full.
Both sides were now looking for the big hit and the game’s intensity was stepping up; a game of Rugby League was breaking out. Good running by Gareth Gill resulted in a penalty for offside. Big hits continued and both sides were looking to win the arm wrestle. The Irish went close with a grubber and the Jamaicans returned the ball with gusto. A great run by Wayne Reittie carved open the Irish line and he was almost away before Rob Armstrong reined him in but was then penalised for a ball steal. From the resulting set of six, Reittie wasn’t to be denied and he scored wide out left after good work through the forwards.
Ireland then kicked out on the full from the restart and were back defending again. Jamaica punished this with a try out wide from Barnett. Reittie was then penalised for obstruction and the Irish were given a penalty. After a good set Reittie, who was becoming highly influential with his devastating broken field running, returned the ball and managed to offload to Alex Brown who then went 70 metres down the touchline to score in the corner with Coleman converting from out wide.
From the restart a great gang tackle forced the ball to be lost and Ireland were 20m from the Jamaican line. The Irish then had three sets on the bounce close to the Jamaican line as indiscipline crept back into the Jamaican game but a loose pass gave the ball away and a penalty for obstruction allowed the Jamaicans to move the ball down the pitch and work the ball out wide where Barnett added his fourth score out wide, with the reliable Coleman cutting the mustard to add the two.
As the game closed out Farrell threw a great cut out pass but it went to ground. Big hits followed in the ensuing sets before the clock ran down to zero. The Jamaicans go into their next fixture against Wales on Friday with a good run out behind them. The Irish meanwhile have now completed their build up tests and the domestic lads will be joined by the professionals for their World Cup qualifier against Spain next Saturday
Adam Doherty, Rob Armstrong, Paddy James, Alan McMahon, Jordan Hylton, Mikey Russell, James Kelly, Gareth Gill, Connor Phillips, Chris Hall, Matt McKelvey, Matty Cahoon, Wayne Kerr, Conor Mackey, Shane Kelly, Onisi Burekama, Adam Boyce
Aaron Jones-Bishop, Richard Barnett, Lewis Bowman, Joseph Brown, Alex Brown, Jy-Mel Coleman, Daniel Thomas, Jode Sheriffe, Joel Farrell, Jordan Andrade, Baasit Agoro, Wayne Reittie, Corey Hanson, Keenen Tomlinson, Danny Bravo, Kadeem Williams, Ross Peltier