The weather forecast for Hallowe’en Day was not too promising, but as the game between Donaghadee 2nds and their Malone visitors kicked off it was sunny, 16 degrees and with very little wind. This is often a herald to an attractive and entertaining game. Sadly this spectacle never happened. It was not anyone’s fault; rather it was that the large Malone pack discovered early on that they had serious weight and experience advantages over their Donaghadee rivals. Three times in the first few minutes they drove their opponents back a good distance, with an indication that they could continue to do so all day.
In fact within the first ten minutes Malone performed their impressive manoeuvre so well that it repeatedly took them many metres into Donaghadee territory, seemingly without much resistance. A penalty offence by Donaghadee gave the visitors a kick at goal. Quick as a flash their scrum-half took a tap and his forwards were across the Dee line before many of the defenders had even regained their feet.
Five minutes later Malone forced a line-out fairly close to the Donaghadee line. Given what they had been doing it was no surprise to see a throw to their No. 2 jumper followed by yet another maul. Just as inexorably as those that preceded it the Malone pack drove over the line for another try. Neither try was converted, but a score of 10-0 in such short order was not promising for the home side.
However, two allies appeared to help the Donaghadee cause. One was that the skilfully executed and impressive tactic of the Malone maul lost its energy, and the slightly shell-shocked Donaghadee forwards put their minds to employing more spoiling tactics rather than a frontal barrier. The other saviour for Donaghadee was that the energies of youth gradually had been wearing down the visitors’ energies. The fearsome maul that had looked like it would overwhelm Donaghadee had become less of a threat by the end of the first quarter, and in addition both players and spectators were beginning to detect signs of fatigue creeping into their opponents’ play as fairly simple passes were dropped with few Malone forwards on hand to salvage possession. Perhaps the game was not totally lost yet.
The second half began with some new commitment for both sides. Perhaps a little too much, since the home outside half and a Malone flanker and then a centre were obliged by the referee to cool off for ten minutes on the touchline. Such a series of events often are the mark of a too-hotly contested game, but this was not the case in this game. As the game went into its final quarter it was obvious that the players on both sides had all decided that the result was now a given. Malone had more incentive to add to their total and within a few minutes they were able to force two more tries, too far out for conversion success. Most of the players and many of the spectators were not too disappointed when the referee blew for no-side with the final score of 20-0 for Malone.