Wicklow get a taste of Division One against Portlaoise
7, Portlaoise 20: Wicklow’s first squad got their first taste of what is to be expected in Division One this year when they took on a big Portlaoise side in a friendly game on Sunday in Ashtown Lane.
It was a dreadful day for rugby with heavy rain falling throughout Wicklow started this game slowly as the big Portloise pack took them on up front at every opportunity.
Wicklow conceded a big weight advantage up front but aggressive defence and hard work meant they competed strongly throughout. Led by Stuart Donohue, Marc Gerety and Ben Armstrong they battled bravely against a much bigger Portlaoise unit.
Excellent line-out work from Liam Hughes and Brian Coffey gave Wicklow a good amount of possession, however the torrential rain made ball handling extremely difficult and suited the heavier Portlaise pack.
Portlaoise made the breakthrough after a strong drive by their forwards allowed their number eight to pick and drive over from close range.
The conversion was added and Portlaoise led 7-0. Another penalty gave the visitors a 10-0 lead.
Wicklow battled back well and were unlucky not to score just before the break following pressure on the Portlaoise line. Marc Geraghty crashed over from a quickly taken penalty but unfortunately the referee ruled that it had to be taken again.
Just after the break Wicklow attacked from deep and following some superb linking between backs and forwards the excellent Mick McNulty crashed over to score beneath the posts.
Wicklow continued to battle hard and introduced seven subs including Colm Bonus, Conor Aylmer, Eanna Killeen, Andrew Geraghty, Niall Higgins, Chris Sillery and the excellent Robert Hopkins who was making his senior debut for Wicklow.
This was another very young Wicklow side taking the field but they showed no fear of their bigger and more experienced opposition.
Another pleasing aspect of this performance was the aggressive defence from the likes of Mick McNulty, Ben Armstrong and Brian Sillery amongst others. Wicklow will know they have several areas to improve however this was a good performance on which this young squad will hope to build upon in the coming weeks.
Next week sees Wicklow firsts and seconds travel to Tullow for two important South East games. Support welcome.
Wicklow’s Michael McNulty goes over for his try against Portlaoise