Local rivals can’t be separated in thriller
RUGBY RATHDRUM AND WICKLOW SHARE THE SPOILS
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.