Irish Roughyeds

Date published: Monday, October 18, 2010

Roughyeds players emerged unscathed and with enhanced reputations from Ireland’s 31-30 Alitalia European Cup defeat by Wales in Neath on Sunday.

John Gillam on the left wing and Wayne Kerr and Matty Ashe, both off the bench, helped the Irish to rock their more fancied opponents, who trailed 4-12, 14-18 and 20-24 before clinching a thriller with two late tries and a Lee Briers drop goal.

Ireland’s star performer, though, was full-back Gregg McNally. The Huddersfield Giants youngster, who spent much of last season on loan to Roughyeds, rattled up 18 points points with two tries and five goals from five attempts, including two off the touchline.

“Gregg had an excellent game, and all the Oldham boys went well,” said Roughyeds boss Tony Benson, Ireland’s assistant coach. “Wayne was strong up the middle; Matty kept us going forward as replacement hooker; and John returned good ball, took some tricky kicks and made excellent ground at crucial times.

“We improved a lot on our performance in France. We scored five tries, including some beauties, and did enough to go into next Sunday’s game against Scotland in Dublin full of confidence.”

A crowd of 2,165 saw an evenly-contested game at the Gnoll in which the lead changed hands six times and in which the late Briers drop goal was to prove decisive.

“If I’m honest I have to say we used our get-out-of-jail card,” summed up Iestyn Harris, the Wales coach. “Ireland are a good side. They quite clearly didn’t do themselves justice in France.”

France beat Scotland 26-12 in front of 7,150 fans to set up a decider with the other unbeaten side, Wales, in Albi next Saturday. The winners will be awarded a place alongside England, Australia and New Zealand in next year’s Four Nations competition in the UK.

++The newly-formed Roughyeds Supporters’ Association is holding its first social event, a quiz and games night, at Whitebank tomorrow (Tuesday) at 8pm. Cost per team of four is £10. For more information ring Paul Whalley on 07796631192.