WICKLOW RUN RIOT
Win sets up tasty tie with high-flying Newbridge
A COMPLETELY dominant Wicklow side tore their Skerries counterparts to bits in their opening Towns Cup clash of 2013. The win now sees the Wicklow men welcome Leinster League Division 1 powerhouse Newbridge RFC to Ashtown Lane for what should be a cracker of a game.
Wicklow travelled to Skerries RFC on Sunday in an uncertain mood. The squad were on a disappointing run of three defeats and were desperate to get their season back on track. They were boosted by the return of player coach Niall Smullen and Timmy Donovan, Fran Cooney, Brian Quinn and Ronan Hurley were also back in the side after injuries.
Skerries were a bit of an unknown quantity and Wicklow travelled not knowing what kind of side they would be facing. The game was played on a largely dry afternoon with a bitterly cold wind that Wicklow faced into in the first half.
Wicklow tore into Skerries right from the off. The pack was clearly up for it and they played with power and aggression all afternoon. After ten min- utes , Wicklow had figured out that trying to kick the ball into a gale was not going to work and opted to keep the ball in hand. They worked their way up the pitch and were awarded a scrum in the Skerries 22. Number Eight Barry Hurley broke and fed the ball to young winger Ben Porter who showed great strength to crash over for a fine try. The conversion was next to impossible in the conditions and Wicklow led 0-5.
Wicklow let Skerries back into the game as the Dubliners used the wind to establish a foothold in Wicklow territory. Skerries got off the mark when they landed a difficult penalty kick to bring the scores to 3-5.
A sin binning for a high tackle reduced Wicklow to 14 men on the 20 minute mark. Skerries took full advantage and moved the ball wide. The Skerries winger did well to round the Wicklow defence and score a fine try. The conversion was missed but Skerries led 8-5 with 10 minutes to go to the break.
On the stroke of halftime some powerful play by the Wicklow pack put them deep in opposition territory. A strong run by Fran Cooney set up Russell Andrew who did well to dive over in the corner for a well taken try. The conversion was missed but Wicklow led 8-10 at half time.
The second half got off to a good start with a penalty from Ben Porter to stretch Wicklow’s lead to 8-13. Wicklow had a second man sent to the bin for hands in the ruck but they responded well and got a third try from Ben Porter. The conversion made it 8-20. Skerries heads visibly dropped at this stage as they faced into the gale and a Wicklow side that had their tails up.
Fran Cooney was next to score with a powerful burst down the sideline to beat several defenders and score beneath the posts. The conversion made it 8-27.
Man of the match Ben Porter completed his hat trick with another fine try with five minutes remaining. This stretched the score to 8-32. Russell Andrew rounded off a fine display with his second try. Porters conversion left the final score at 8-39 and brought his tally for the day to an impressive 24 points.
Wicklow won't get carried away by the result against a Skerries side that wilted badly in the second half. They will however be delighted with the nature of the performance which was as precise, structured and physical as they have given all season. The pack was outstanding to a man. The front row of Timmy Donovan, Eddie Downes and Paddy Jameson had a very productive day at the coalface with all three scrummaging and carrying powerfully. The second row of Noel Greene and Niall Smullen were dominant in the lineout and in the loose. The backrow of Hurley, Quinn and particularly Ronan Monahan were everywhere. The backs scored some dazzling tries and defended with aggression.
Wicklow have been rewarded with a tasty second round clash at home against Newbridge RFC. Newbridge are ranked the third best side in Leinster at the moment and have a superb back line along with a mobile pack. Wicklow will be up against it but they won't fear Newbridge and will relish going toe to toe with them in front of a big home crowd in Ashtown lane. This mouth-watering tie takes place on Sunday February 16 in Wicklow.
Team: Timmy O'Donovan, Eddie Downes, Paddy Jameson, Noel Greene, Niall Smullen, Ronan Monahan, Brian Quinn, Barry Hurley, Dennis Higgins, Ronan Hurley, Russell Andrew, Ken Copeland, Ben Mangan, Ben Porter , Mark Higgins, Subs Simon Norton, Michael Doyle, Fran Cooney, Simon Dunne, Shane Byrne.
Next Sunday Wicklow’s Second XV take on Enniscorthy in the first round of the Provincial Seconds Cup. This is a crucial game for Andrew Flood’s side who have been having a fine season to date in the Leinster League. Beating Enniscorthy will be a big ask but this talented team are more than capable of doing so.
Kick off is on Sunday at 2.30pm in Ashtown Lane.