Win sets up tasty tie with high-fly­ing New­bridge

Bray People - - SPORT -

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.

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