Firsts within whisker of sal­vaging a draw

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT -

WICK­LOW First XV suf­fered a dis­ap­point­ing and rare de­feat at home at the hands of a good Gorey side on Satur­day af­ter­noon.

The two teams went into the game in joint se­cond place just be­hind league lead­ers En­nis­cor­thy.

The game was played on a wet day with a strong di­ag­o­nal cross­wind that favoured the home side in the first half.

It was Gorey who started the stronger of the two teams. They piled on the pres­sure in the early stages and came close to scor­ing on sev­eral oc­ca­sions early on.

Wick­low’s de­fence was out­stand­ing all day and they man­aged to clear their lines well, but they strug­gled to make any real in­roads into Gorey ter­ri­tory. As half-time ap­proached the stale­mate con­tin­ued.

Wick­low were awarded a penalty just be­fore the break and Niall Earls landed a beauty from 45 me­tres out to give the home side a 3-0 lead.

Gorey re­sponded im­me­di­ately with a penalty of their own to go in at half time at 3-3. Gorey were prob­a­bly the bet­ter team in the first half and turned with the wind at their backs for the se­cond half.

Wick­low be­gan to up the ante. They soon had Gorey un­der sig­nif­i­cant pres­sure. The con­di­tions were mak­ing it very dif­fi­cult for both teams but they pro­duced a re­mark­ably good game of rugby de­spite the weather. A long spell of Wick­low pres­sure looked like it would break the dead­lock but out­stand­ing Gorey de­fence al­lowed them to clear down­field again.

The se­cond half was a re­vers of the first half. The side play­ing into the wind had al­most all of the pos­ses­sion and al­most all of the at­tack­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. Gorey hung on grimly as Wick­low pounded their line but to their credit they held firm.

As time ran out a rare se­cond half foray into Wick­low ter­ri­tory for the Wex­ford men. A long kick Photo: Roisin McCul­lagh. through deep into the Wick­low 22. The safer op­tion would have been to clear to touch but Wick­low’s in­ten­tion was to win the game and they ran the ball.

A good Gorey kick chase brought the at­tempted break out to an end. A hasty and il­le­gal clearout yielded a sim­ple penalty to Gorey. The kicker made no mis­take and Gorey led 3-6, deep into in­jury time. The ref­eree sig­nalled that there was time for one last play. Wick­low kicked off and did bril­liantly to re­claim the kick off. The drama wasn’t over yet.

The ref­eree awarded the home side a penalty 35 me­tres out. Niall Earls opted to take on the dif­fi­cult kick to at­tempt to sal­vage the draw.

The kick was struck well but heart-break­ingly hit the up­right and dropped away and Gorey cleared to safety. The fi­nal whis­tle went and Gorey had won.

Wick­low per­formed well on the day but were gut­ted not to have won the game.

This was a fine Gorey side but Wick­low will have felt they had enough chances to put them away in the se­cond half and didn’t take them.

They slip to third place in this ul­tra com­pet­i­tive league, three points be­hind Gorey and five be­hind En­ni­cor­thy. There is plenty of rugby to be played yet.

This week­end Wick­low travel to North­ern Ire­land to take on Bal­ly­clare in the All-Ire­land Ju­nior Cup quar­ter-fi­nal.

This is a re­ally chal­leng­ing fix­ture for Wick­low as they face a strong club that is fly­ing high at the top of their league in Ul­ster. They have six bonus point wins in a row and Wick­low will need to be at their very very best to come away with a re­sult. Kick off is at 2.30 p.m.

Wick­low: Eanna Killeen, Jack McKenna, Neil Dick­en­son, Liam Gaffney, Ge­orge Naoupu, Fer­gus Ward, Brian Shortt, Luke Gersekowsk­i, Den­nis Hig­gins, Niall Earls ,Si­mon Breen, Shane Far­rar, Billy Ngaw­ini, Dean Leonard, Ben Porter. Subs Mark Hig­gins, Pablo Castello Vi­nolo, Ja­son Byrne, Mark Cullen, Stephen Swan. Photo: Yvette O Beirne.

Den­nis Hig­gins gets the Wick­low backs mov­ing.

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