Wexford claim big scalp
THE WEXFORD Wanderers first XV travelled to a damp and cold Portlaoise on Sunday to face joint leaders Portlaoise in Leinster League Division 2A.
The table had Portlaoise, Cill Dara and Clondalkin all in joint lead, two points ahead of Wanderers in a fixture both sides needed to win to keep their respective title ambitions alive and to hopefully land a knockout blow against one of the other main contenders.
The game started with Wanderers playing some hard and aggressive rugby, but the home side scored first when one of the Portlaoise centres intercepted a pass in midfield to score under the posts with just five minutes gone.
Wexford did not get on the scoreboard until nearly the halfhour mark when out-half Stafford punished Portlaoise indiscipline in one of the rare penalties awarded against the home side.
Five minutes later, and with the ice broken, Wanderers’ legendary prop Aidan Stewart crossed the line after a good period of steady phase play by the visitors to give his side a one-point lead.
On the stroke of half-time however, Wanderers’ man of the match, hooker Graham Grant, burst across in the corner to extend the score at the interval to 13-7 in favour of Wexford.
In the second period both sides battled for 20 minutes before Portlaoise scored an unconverted try to narrow Wanderers’ lead to one point.
Five minutes later centre Shea Boggan with some quick and clever thinking punished the Portlaoise back line’s flat defence by grub kicking the ball through them and collecting himself to score in the corner.
Portlaoise, however, continued to battle and scored a converted try near the posts after sustained pressure on the Wexford line to again regain the lead.
Grant concluded matters with his second try in the 77th minute after he broke from the halfway line along the right wing. The final score line was 23-19 in favour of the visitors.
The result moved Wanderers up to third, with Clondalkin two points in front and Cill Dara one point ahead of them. Portlaoise drop to fourth, two points behind Wexford in what is the tightest contest in Leinster this season.
Next up for Wexford is the visit of New Ross in the local derby fixture which also doubles up as the South-East League semi-final. There will also be the added incentive of silverware, with the annual Talbot/Brandon Cup up for grabs, and holders Wexford will not want to relinquish it or the place in a South-East final without a significant fight.
Kick-off next Sunday is 2.30 p.m. and your support will be appreciated.
Wexford: Seán Redmond, Graham Grant, Aidan Stewart, John Turner, Darragh Kehoe (capt.), Tom Brennan, Luke Roche, Bobby Clancy, Stewart Ryan, Seán Stafford, Richie Waters, Shea Boggan, Seán O Corcora, Liam Barry, Eoin Roche. Subs. - Barry Ryan, Kyle Roche, Vincent Carroll, Calum Murphy, Paul Gannon.
Other results: Division 2A, New Ross 18, Railway Union 20; Seconds league (J2), Division 2A, New Ross 15, Railway Union 26.