Drama at the death

Porter downs Dun­dalk with late try af­ter bruis­ing bat­tle

Wicklow People (Arklow) - - SPORT -

WICK­LOW RFC’S Se­nior men took on a tough Dun­dalk RFC side when the Le­in­ster League re­sumed at Ash­town Lane on Saturday af­ter the Christ­mas break.

Dun­dalk were ly­ing sec­ond from bot­tom in this ul­tra com­pet­i­tive league.

The Louth men, coached by for­mer Wick­low RFC player coach Niall Smullen, thrashed Wick­low ear­lier in the sea­son in the re­verse fix­ture and Ge­orge Naou­pus’ men felt that they would have to be at their best to come away with the points.

The game was played on a dry day with a light breeze that favoured the away side in the first half.

Both sides strug­gled to get go­ing in the open­ing stages. There was a clear case of ring rusti­ness as both teams found it dif­fi­cult to get any mean­ing­ful mo­men­tum in the first 20 min­utes.

It was 25 min­utes in be­fore Dun­dalk opened the scor­ing with a de­served penalty.

This seemed to wake Wick­low up and they bounced im­me­di­ately with an ex­cel­lent try.

Slick hands by Char­lie But­ter­worth put Shane Far­rar through the small­est of gaps.

The ball went wide to Luke Gersekowski and back to Billy Ngaw­ini.

The speedy cen­tre pro­duced a wicked side step to round his man and score close to the posts. The con­ver­sion from Ben Porter made it 7-3 af­ter 27 min­utes.

Dun­dalk hit back with an­other penalty as the half time whis­tle ap­proached to make it 7-6. Si­mon Breen then looked to have scored in the corner, but the ref­eree had spot­ted a knock-on.

Soon after­wards, a Wick­low scrum led to a se­ries of car­ries by the Wick­low pack. Even­tu­ally, the ball moved wide to Ngaw­ini, who once again danced around his op­po­site num­ber to get over un­scathed for the try. Porters con­ver­sion made it 14-6 to Wick­low at the break.

Dun­dalk dom­i­nated the early stages of the sec­ond half. Wick­low’s dis­ci­pline went out the win­dow and the ref­eree be­gan to pun­ish them.

A se­ries of penal­ties went Dun­dalk’s way. Two kicks at goal were suc­cess­ful and the score was nar­rowed to 14-12 with 20 min­utes on the clock.

Ben Porter gave Wick­low a lit­tle breath­ing space with a penalty that made it 17-12 with 15 min­utes left.

As time wound down, Dun­dalk, des­per­ate for the win, upped the ante and pinned Wick­low deep in their own half.

With ten min­utes left wing for­ward Wes Wo­j­nar went to the sin bin but the re­sul­tant penalty was nar­rowly wide. A let off for Wick­low, but Dun­dalk kept ham­mer­ing away.

Deep in in­jury time, player coach Ge­orge Naoupu was sin binned and Wick­low were down to 13 men.

A pow­er­ful Dun­dalk scrum on the Wick­low five-me­tre line went down.

The sec­ond scrum ap­peared to wheel180 de­grees, but the ref­eree deemed it to be a penalty try. No con­ver­sion was nec­es­sary, and Dun­dalk led 17-19.

There was just about time to kick off. Wick­low man­aged to re­gain pos­ses­sion and launched one last des­per­ate at­tack from deep in­side their own half.

The ref­eree had in­di­cated that this was the last play. The ball was re­cy­cled through phase af­ter phase as Wick­low threw the kitchen sink at the Louth men.

Wick­low moved the ball wide to the left and then stretched them wide to the right. Alex Porter looked like he might get in, but he was held up in the left corner.

The ball went right and in the gath­er­ing gloom it looked like Wick­low were over in the right corner.

Some des­per­ate last-ditch de­fence from Dun­dalk kept them out, but the pres­sure was be­gin­ning to tell.

The ball was moved quickly back to the right. Wick­low had a two man over­lap but Ben Porter spot­ted a gap and the pow­er­ful full back drove through to score a bril­liant team try.

Ash­town Lane erupted. Wick­low were elated and Dun­dalk were heart­bro­ken. This was a game that could have gone ei­ther way but Wick­low just about shaded it in the end.

Over­all it was a mixed per­for­mance by the home side, but they showed true grit, de­ter­mi­na­tion and ice in the veins to pro­duce that fi­nal score when it was des­per­ately needed.

The re­sult keeps Wick­low com­fort­ably in third place with four games re­main­ing. Wick­low have a bye in the first round of the Town Cup which kicks off in two weeks’ time.

A very young Wick­low sec­ond team pro­duced an ex­cel­lent per­for­mance to beat a tough Dun­dalk side.

There were some no­table per­for­mances from debu­tants Cor­mac Mur­ray, Dy­lan Byrne and Sam Porter amongst oth­ers.

Cor­mac Mur­ray scored a try on his se­nior de­but for Wick­low. Wick­low with­held a des­per­ate last minute at­tack that saw the ball knocked for­ward un­der the Wick­low posts with the last play of the game.

This was an im­por­tant win for the sec­onds who will be look­ing for a strong fin­ish to the league and a good run in the Pro­vin­cial Sec­onds Cup.

Next Saturday sees both firsts and sec­onds travel to Boyne for the next round of the Le­in­ster League. Boyne are bot­tom of the league and are fight­ing for sur­vival. An­other tricky away fix­ture for both teams. Kick off is at 1pm and 2.30pm WICK­LOW FIRSTS: Ed­die Downes, Jack McKenna, Mark Cullen, Liam Gaffney, Ge­orge Naoupu, Wes Wo­j­nar, Luke Gersekowski, Char­lie But­ter­worth, Den­nis Hig­gins, Shane Far­rar, Dean Leonard ,Si­mon Breen, Ngaw­ini, Adam Cullen, Ben Porter. Subs Mark Ni­chol­son, Eanna Killeen, Brian Shortt Sea­mus O’Brien, Alex Porter.

WICK­LOW SEC­ONDS: Sea­mus O’Brien, Eanna Killeen, Stephen Swann, Andy O’Boyle, Sam Porter, Tom Maguire, David Hen­der­son, Lor­can Smullen, Shane Byrne, Ally Byrne, Conor Vize, Cian Reynolds, Alex Porter, James Stafford, Jack Dunne, Dy­lan Byrne, John Jenk­in­son, John Kear­ney, Cor­mac Mur­ray, Dar­ren Byrne.

Wick­low cel­e­brate af­ter Ben Porter charged across the Dun­dalk line in the last play of the game at Ash­town Lane.

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