Wicklow U-16s beat Portlaoise in thriller
Wicklow 25, Portlaoise 17: Wicklow and Portlaoise served up a festive feast of rugby at Ashtown Lane on Saturday.
Wicklow knew this was a must win game and immediately set about their task. From the kickoff Wicklow were awarded a scrum on the halfway line and despite facing a much bigger eight the Wicklow scrum laid down a marker and drove the opposition back releasing number eight Daniel Mannian into the space and following great support play were stopped short of the line illegally.
Jason Byrne took the tap penalty and smashed over for the opening try. Wicklow claimed the kick off and went straight back into the Portlaoise 22 but were kept out by some excellent defence.
Portlaoise were rewarded for their hard work when on 12 minutes they were awarded a penalty on the Wick- low five metre line which they passed to their big prop who drove over from close to the line. Their out-half converted.
Six minutes later Wicklow were awarded a penalty in the Portlaoise 22. The penalty move worked to perfection and Daniel Mannian scored. Ben Porter converted.
With three minutes left in the half the Portlaoise backs put together a fine move to score wide on the left. Twelve all at half-time and all to play for. Portlaoise started the second-half attacking the Wicklow line and five minutes into the half were ahead again, scoring a try following a sustained period of pressure.
In the 18th minute following a break by Daniel Mannian and some excellent support play and interchange by and between Shane Carroll, Judd Byrne, Killian Heraughty, and Seán Dempsey, Mark Higgins was given perfect ball which the Wicklow backs flashed wide for Ben Porter to score wide on the right.
Wicklow then took control of the game and pinned Portlaoise into their half. Kevin Wylie ran every Portlaoise kick back with interest.
Neill O’Brien was unlucky not to score. Andrew Conway and Ryan Donnelly stopped the opposition in their tracks every time. Wicklow deserved and got another try on the stroke of full-time when after the forwards set up fast ball Andrew Conway scored wide on the left.
Wicklow squad: Andrew Boyce, William O’Reilly, Jason Byrne, Shane Carroll, Killian Heraughty, Judd Byrne, Seán Dempsey, Daniel Mannian, Mark Higgins, Ben Porter, Andrew Conway, Ryan Donnelly, David Armstrong, Neill O’Brien, Kevin Wylie, Frankie Marron, Shane Byrne, Daniel O’Brien, Kevin Dunne, Ciarán Moran, Shane Conroy.
Killian Hegarty of Wicklow Under-16s drives forward against Portlaoise on Saturday (Photo: Orlaith Maguire).