Lo­cal ri­vals can’t be sep­a­rated in thriller

RUGBY RATH­DRUM AND WICK­LOW SHARE THE SPOILS

Bray People - - Sport -

RATH­DRUM R.F.C. hosted lo­cal ri­vals, Wick­low R.F.C. on Sun­day for their first game of the 2008/9 sea­son. The game, which also kicked off both clubs South­east League cam­paigns, was a cap­ti­vat­ing game with the end scores of 23 all a fair re­flec­tion.

From a Rath­drum point of view, it was great to see so much home grown tal­ent on dis­play. All 15 start­ing play­ers ei­ther came through the youth struc­ture in the club or have been long term Rath­drum R.F.C. stal­warts.

The game com­menced with Wick­low im­me­di­ately pil­ing on the pres­sure on the home side. Rath­drum’s de­fense seemed to be han­dling the pres­sure fairly well un­til a well-worked move by the vis­i­tors saw Wick­low’s No. 10 chip the ball to the cor­ner al­low­ing his winger to re­gather and run in the first try of the game. Rath­drum im­me­di­ately re­sponded with a penalty to leave the game at 7-3 to the vis­i­tors.

The game was bal­anced on a knife edge for the next 15 min­utes with both teams try­ing hard to im­pose their game plan. As the half closed Wick­low ran in an­other two trys with Rath­drum re­spond­ing with two penalty kicks to leave the score at 17-9 to the vis­i­tors. At this stage, Rath­drum may have felt that the luck of the green was against them hav­ing played some great rugby for lit­tle re­ward in the first-half.

This was all to change with min­utes gone on the clock in the sec­ond-half. Rath­drum’s No. 9 Ro­nan Phe­lan gath­ered a Wick­low clear­ance kick within his own 22. Step­ping two Wick­low play­ers and chip­ping the ball over the third. He re-gath­ered and out sprinted the cov­er­ing Wick­low de­fense be­fore feed­ing the ball in­side to full­back, Stephen Dowl­ing to score un­der the posts. With one game gone, it’s hard to see a bet­ter try be­ing scored this sea­son at the Ivy Leaf grounds!!! Al­ready a try of the sea­son con­tender!!!

This left the score at 17-16 with ev­ery­thing to play for. Wick­low struck back quickly with a drop goal and a penalty to pull seven points clear com­ing into the last few min­utes.

Rath­drum, who where de­fend­ing an un­beaten record at the Ivy Leaf grounds of over two years, never gave up and pressed hard in the fi­nal quar­ter. The cen­tre part­ner­ship of Mor­gan Sheri­dan and Shane Birch looked threat­en­ing through­out and out-half and stand in cap­tain, Conor Par­son led by ex­am­ple all day long.

It was no sur­prise then that when the break­through fi­nally came two of th­ese play­ers where in­volved. Par­son’s chipped ahead and re-gath­ered to feed Birch com­ing through at full pace to score un­der the posts with Par­son’s con­vert­ing to leave the score 23 all. As the game drew to a close, the vis­i­tors had an op­por­tu­nity to steal the win with a missed penalty but in the end a draw was a fair re­sult.

Rath­drum travel to Tullow R.F.C. next Sun­day, Septem­ber 7, in the sec­ond game of their south­east cam­paign. All sup­port is very much ap­pre­ci­ated with kick-off at 3.00 p.m.

Rath­drum 1. Gary John­son 2. Johnny Con­way 3. Brian Done­gan 4. Danny Clear 5. John Glee­son 6. John Cash­man 7. Sam Buck 8. Ker­rin Buck 9. Ro­nan Phe­lan 10. Conor Par­sons 11. Steven Lang­don 12. Mor­gan Sheri­dan 13. Shane Birch 14. Ian Snell 15. Stephen Dowl­ing.

Rath­drum’s Steven Dowl­ing in full flight.

Wick­low’s Ben Arm­strong makes a strong tackle.

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