The men in green welcomed Grosvenor to Downpatrick on Saturday morning in what were ideal conditions for running rugby. Indeed when half time arrived the home team reflected on a half when they had probably tried to play too much fancy rugby at the expense of some basic skills.
In the opening encounters Down repetitively neglected the territorial aspects of the game and played too much rugby in their own half. Around the 10 minute mark Grosvenor capitlised on this, kicking a penalty from the 10 metre line to touch winning the lineout and forming a maul that the Down men just couldn’t get stopped, leading to the first score of the contest. The conversion was missed.
This try seemed to spark the Down to men to life and within two minutes of the restart Ross Carlisle had seared through the Grosvenor line for a try which came on the back of great phase play. Carlisle added the extras.
For the remainder of the half both sides had a high error count and possession went to and fro. Grosvenor did have one successful penalty attempt leaving the halftime score at 8-5 in favour of the visitors.
In the second half the Down men steadied their heads and resorted to a more simple style of rugby that proved to be more effective. This appeared to work as they went on to outscore Grosvenor three tries to one.
The first of these scores came from Roger Birt who found himself on the end of a neatly weighted grubber kick by John Hyndman. Ross Carlisle added a fantastic conversion from the touchline.
Prop Nathan Gibson was next to crash over the line taking a pass off a ruck that had come about after the home side had strung together many phases of play. Carlisle added the straightforward conversion.
Grosvenor scored the next try when they charged down a kick before gathering the ball and outpacing the chasing defenders who had been fully committed to attack. Their conversion from the touchline didn’t make the distance.
In the final act of play Ryan Smyth showed some great individual flare to finish a scoring opportunity that had come about after Down had stretched the Grosvenor defensive line. Carlisle’s conversion drifted wide bringing the close to a more pleasing half for the home team and leaving the final score at 26-13.