Nerves of steel

CORINTHIANS coach Phil Pretorius has admitted to some frustration that his side have not secured any try bonus from their first five AIL Division 1B games, particularly given they have amassed the greatest number of points in the division so far this season.

Indeed, only Division 2B outfit Nenagh Ormond has scored more than Corinthians, who also have one of the meanest defences, across the four divisions in the AIL during this campaign and it is not lost on Pretorius that their failure to secure the try bonuses is costing them the top spot in Division 1B.

“It has been so frustrating. In our first four games we scored three tries and we had a few chances to convert a fourth try but we didn’t take it. So, yeah, it is a worry,” admits Pretorius. “That said, we played a lot of the games in the rain and it was really difficult to score that fourth try in the conditions.”

No doubt, the weather has been a factor, Pretorius highlighting that three of their five games have been contested in heavy rain. “So, we had to play a more pragmatic game. I am extremely proud of the guys that they can win now in wind, rain, hail and sunshine. It doesn’t matter what conditions they are out in.”

At any rate, second placed Corinthians and league leaders Terenure remain the only two unbeaten teams in Division 1B after the Cloonacauneen outfit inflicted a first AIL defeat of the season on Connacht rivals Buccaneers last weekend.

Corinthians, who had trailed 11-0 at half-time, came from behind with three late Sean O’Hagan penalties to snatch a dramatic 19-18 victory. In terms of league position and impetus going forward, it was a massive win.

“Yes, absolutely and we knew before that Buccaneers are a very strong side. They have, perhaps, the biggest pack of forwards in all of club rugby and I also thought their No. 10 Jack Carty had a fantastic game. They started off really well and they converted about every single chance.

“I thought, though, we stood back a bit in the first half and I had to fire on the guys at half-time. After half-time, we controlled the whole game and in the end we won 101 rucks and they had only 33. So, it showed we played all the rugby. Our team did really well in the second half.”

Indeed, Corinthians managed to restrict Buccaneers to just a try – and conversion – in the second period and this, by and large, provided the platform to push on for the dramatic victory. It was not stuff for the faint-hearted but it sure was entertaining.

“In Dublin, they call us the Harlem Globetrotters because we are entertaining but I don’t think we are just entertaining,” says the former Tongan and Barbarians Head Coach. “We are trying to win also. Although we are spreading the ball around and running from everywhere, we have a balanced side.

“We also have a very quick pack of forwards and, again, I think we have a great balanced side now. Our motto is actually to run it from everywhere and that is the way we play.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.