Wick­low suf­fer ag­o­nis­ing de­feat

RUGBY LE­IN­STER LEAGUE DIVI­SION 1

Bray People - - Bray Sport -

Wick­low 1st XV 26, Garda 27: Wick­low 1sts faced Garda RFC in their lat­est fix­ture in the Le­in­ster league at home at Ash­town Lane on Sun­day. The game was played on a dry cold day in con­di­tions ideal for rugby.

Wick­low got off to a good start and straight away had Garda un­der some con­sid­er­able pres­sure. The pack were tak­ing up good ball led from the front by cap­tain Brian Cof­fey.

They were ham­mer­ing the Garda line when a quick turnover was forced, the ball was moved wide by Garda on their own line and the full-back ran the length of the pitch to score un­der the posts.

The con­ver­sion was added and shortly af­ter­wards a Wick­low in­fringe­ment gave the Garda a penalty kick in front of the posts. The kick was good and Wick­low found them­selves 10-0 be­hind.

To their credit Wick­low didn’t panic and stuck at the task in hand. The pack was com­pet­ing well and the backs were putting to­gether some good phases of play. Brian Clarke, Gary Duffy and Paddy O’Fla­herty were caus­ing all sorts of prob­lems for the Garda backs.

Even­tu­ally the pres­sure told when Paddy O’Fla­herty crossed out wide to score Wick­low’s first try. Gary Duffy slot­ted the dif­fi­cult con­ver­sion and Wick­low were back in the game at 10-7. From the kick off Wick­low made their way for­ward af­ter a tremendous break by Gary Duffy fol­low­ing good work by Brian Clarke saw Wick­low surge into the Garda 22.

Duffy man­aged to off­load to the ex­cel­lent Paddy O’Fla­herty who still had a lot of work to do to make the line. His power and pace were enough to see off two de­fend­ers and cross the line be­neath the posts. The con­ver­sion brought the score to 14-10. A penalty by Gary Duffy be­fore half-time put Wick­low 17-10 ahead.

Af­ter the break both teams traded penal­ties to leave the score at 2013 in Wick­low’s favour. With twenty mi­nu­ites re­main­ing Wick­low con­ceded a soft try to Garda and the con­ver­sion made it 20-20.

An­other Duffy penalty and an op­por­tunis­tic drop goal from out-half Brian Clarke that crept over the bar saw Wick­low push into a de­served 26-20 lead. The ref­eree added on an end­less amount of in­jury-time. Wick­low were un­der pres­sure but de­fended well.

They man­aged to clear their lines on sev­eral oc­ca­sions but too of­ten the kicks went straight to the Garda back three who at­tacked the line again. With the last play of the game four of the Wick­low back line got sucked into a large maul in the cor­ner and when the Garda moved the ball wide they had a huge over­lap. The moved the ball quickly and scored. The con­ver­sion was added and Wick­low had lost heart­break­ingly 27-26.

Wick­low were gut­ted by this loss, how­ever this was a fine per­for­mance by an ever im­prov­ing side. The habit of los­ing is hard to break but with con­tin­ued ef­fort on the train­ing field the re­sults will start to come.

The los­ing bonus point lifted Wick­low off the bot­tom of the ta­ble where they are re­placed by Newbridge. There were sev­eral fine per­for­mances on the day with Gary Duffy, Brian Clarke and Paddy O’Fla­herty the stand out per­form­ers in the backs and 19-year-olds Paul Hodgkin­son and John McSherry in the pack, ably as­sisted by Ro­nan Con­nolly. Next week Wick­low travel to face En­nis­cor­thy in what will be a tough game be­tween two sides keen to reg­is­ter a win.

Wick­low: Paddy Jame­son, Brian Cof­fey, Paul Hodgkin­son, Si­mon Nor­ton, Ben Arm­strong, John McSherry, Ro­nan Con­nolly, Stu­art Donoghue, Robert Hop­kins, Brian Clarke, Gary Duffy, Paddy O’Fla­herty, Allen Byrne, Rus­sel An­drew, Stephen Duffy. Reps. - Niall Hig­gins, David Quinn, Eanna Killeen, Brian Sillery, Stephan Copeland.

Wick­low 2nd XV 21, Garda 32: Wick­low’s sec­ond team showed a bit of ring rusti­ness in their first game in al­most a month against Garda on Sun­day.

Tries by David Quinn and vet­eran Allen Byrne who made a stun­ning 30 me­tre burst were not enough to over­come a tough Garda side.

Best for Wick­low were new­comer Adam Roche and James Jenk­in­son on his come­back af­ter in­jury. Next week the sec­onds travel to take on a tough En­nis­cor­thy side whom Wick­low beat in a thrilling game ear­lier in the sea­son.

Ben Wat­son and Si­mon Nor­ton mak­ing the tack­les against Garda.

(Pho­tos: Or­laith Maguire).

Gary Duffy on the run

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