Wicklow suffer agonising defeat
RUGBY LEINSTER LEAGUE DIVISION 1
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.
Gary Duffy on the run