NEW ROSS RUGBY
New Ross 9, Mullingar 19: Mullingar made the long trip to play New Ross in the Leinster League on Sunday last. Both teams were very evenly matched and New Ross held the lead twice in the first-half through penalties converted by Jared Dunbar.
The bigger Mullingar forwards were getting no change from the New Ross pack, who were superbly led by Brian Bolger, Joe Reville and James Ryan. The captain, Paddy Delaney, and Jared Dunbar at fly-half were gaining good attacking positions for the home team.
But it was proving very difficult to crack the Mullingar defence and the concession of soft penalties did not help the home team's cause. Nevertheless, the Rossonians stuck to their task and never let up.
New Ross almost scored a try on the stroke of half -time, but desperate defence saved the day for the away team. The first-half ended all square at six points each.
Mullingar converted a penalty for a 9-6 lead and the game was played between the 22metre lines for a long period after that until New Ross got another chance through a penalty which Dunbar converted to level matters.
Mullingar unloaded their bench at that stage and put the home team under pressure for the last 15 minutes, and their pressure was rewarded with a try followed by a conversion and another penalty for a deserved win. But this was a good performance by New Ross and they can look forward to the remaining games with confidence.
Saturday in Southknock saw the Under-19s face local rivals Enniscorthy in the Leinster League, hoping to keep their good record intact. They got off to the best possible start when the first ruck of the game resulted in quick ball for the backs and Eanna Burke added to his prodigious scoring record by finishing off under the posts with barely 30 seconds on the clock. The try was converted by Gavin Mernagh.
Some ten minutes later, and the Scorthy whitewash was crossed again after a scything break and good physical strength through the centre from Seán Crowdle. At this stage, Ross seemed to take the foot off the gas and allowed the opposition to creep back into contention, coughing up several penalties with two being converted, leaving the half-time score at 12-6.
The second-half resumed with Enniscorthy converting another penalty to increase the anxiety levels on the sidelines. This seemed to breath renewed life into the Ross side, with the forwards getting back to what they do best and controlling the tight exchanges and getting over the Enniscorthy line twice, only to be adjudged 'held up'.
The heart and belief in this side now really came to the fore and the performance was upped again, with 'Pudden' Dempsey crashing over in a convincing display of physicality. The pendulum had now completely swung in favour of Ross and one felt it was only a matter of when the scoreline would be increased.
So it turned out when, in the last few minutes, following a soild series of forward phases, Robbie Larkin showed his absolute best and steamrolled over from 15 yards out, leaving a trail of Enniscorthy bodies behind him on the ground.
This observer considers that Paudie Barden at full-back shaded the man of the match award on this occasion for his flawless performance in a position which he has only taken up this season, although he was pushed hard for this award by Kevin Browne and Mark Murphy.
Another good win and an intact try line sets up a mouth-watering top of the table clash on Saturday in Southknock versus Gorey.
Squad: Kevin Browne, Mark Murphy, Conor Dempsey, Mikolaj Kochanski, Robbie Larkin, Joe Coughlan, Eoin Quirke, Seán Grace, Gavin Mernagh, Barry Walsh, Seán Crowdle, Eanna Burke, Nathan Prendergast, Paudie Barden, Michael Coyne, Bryan Haberlin, Alex McKenzie, Callum Wallace, John Caulfield, Robbie Vallejo.
New Ross Under-17s faced a long bus journey to Roscrea on Saturday last. They went into the match on a two-win streak and wanted to carry on their recent good form. The New Ross team had the bare minimum to field a full team and faced a big Roscrea side.
The back line started the match powerfully for New Ross as Adam Swan spun the ball wide to Garrett Browne who linked up well with Aaron Fenlon. Fenlon showed great speed to run more than half the pitch and side-stepped the opposing full-back to score the opening try. Captain Adam Swan converted the try from in front of the posts.
The New Ross forwards kept driving the Roscrea team further back into their own territory, with Michael Tench at the forefront of the action. Once again the backs provided the ball for Aaron Fenlon to run through gaps to find the Roscrea try line by the corner flag. Adam Swan had a tough conversion to make but the ball floated through the posts perfectly.
The Roscrea pack drove New Ross back into their own '22. New Ross showed great defence but unfortunately were unable to prevent the Roscrea offense. The leaders of the team helped to drive New Ross up the pitch and were awarded a penalty which was converted by Adam Swan. At half-time New Ross were 17-5 up.
The ball was kicked deep into the Roscrea '22 after half-time and Roscrea tried to run free of the New Ross tackles. Mark Nolan put great pressure on the Roscrea out-half who forced a pass which Adam Swan intercepted and showed great pace to speed pass the stunned Roscrea defenders and dive in under the posts. He converted his own try with ease.
After that the New Ross players fell asleep and Roscrea burrowed through the forwards and scored a try in the corner which was thought to be held up by the out-half, Adam Swan. Fortunately, the conversion was missed to make the score 24-10.
The Roscrea forwards again showed their strength from winning line-outs and scrums. Every ball that went wide was stopped dead by winger Aaron Fenlon and Garrett Browne, but the forwards kept driving forward and touched down under the posts which was easily converted by the out-half.
For the last five minutes New Ross were under severe pressure but were relieved to see the ball kicked out and the final whistle blown. Man of the match performances were shown by Adam Swan and Aaron Fenlon.
Clonard completed the first half of its sixth division mixed league programme with a visit to Gorey last night. St. Martin's will be the visitors this week and with just one home game and one away fixture the team should be well placed for the Christmas break.
Our sole representative in the charity tournament, Brian Dignam, took to the court last weekend. We wish him the best of luck.
The boys' doubles club competition was won by Adam Molloy and Caolán Hartigan, who were unbeaten all evening. Shane Whitty and Laurynas Matzunas came second.
There was a tie for third place, with T.J. Cousins and Eoin Hickey on an equal score with Brian Mitchell and Eoghan O'Brien.
The mixed doubles was won by Evan Carr and Conor Neville. Tiernan Carr and Marc Thomas came second and Seona FanningIronside and Nathan O'Brien came third. Shay Walsh made his competitive deput and showed promise.
Wexford Wanderers hosted Rathdrum on a cool night at Park Lane on Friday last. The game which kicked off at 8 p.m. saw Wanderers pick up where they left off after their last league outing two to three weeks ago.
The home side was on the scoreboard early due to an infringement by Rathdrum which was punished with a penalty. The penalty, however, seemed to rouse the visitors into action, resulting in them scoring a penalty and converting a try to lead the league leaders by 10-3.
The mental strength of the home side started to come to the fore and minutes later Wanderers converted another penalty to reduce the margin before out-half Maurice Logue cut through the Rathdrum defence for an excellent try.
At this stage Wanderers kept their nerves and again worked the ball through the back line, enabling centre Seán O Corcora to cut through for Wexford's second try. Minutes later scrum-half Stewie Ryan went over for Wanderers' third try.
At the break Wanderers were in complete control and, despite Rathdrum's best efforts, they kept them pinned in their own half. Midway through the half the referee sent one of the visitors to the bin for persistent infringement at the breakdown.
Wanderers' back line at this stage were able to attack Rathdrum at will and wing Mark Goodison was released to score a try which was converted at a difficult angle by Colm O Corcora.
The forwards, not wanting to be left out of the scoring, added a great try through captain Anthony Walsh after a sustained period of picking and driving. However, the try of the contest came from replacement wing Podge Cousins who scored after less than 30 seconds on the field with such an acrobatic dive that it is obvious he is trying to emulate England wing Chris Ashton.
The final score of the contest came again from captain Walsh with a try similar to his earlier drive over the line. The final score of the contest was 43-10 to Wanderers.
However, the more important figure is that the side are eight points ahead of their nearest rivals in the league after seven games. The result puts the side in a very strong position for next Sunday's trip away to Tallaght, a side Wanderers put over 50 points on at home earlier in the league.
Team: Willie Morris, Alan Kinsella, Richie Morris, Chris Walsh, Rory O'Leary, Aidan Stewart, Anthony Walsh (capt.), Aidan Stewart, Stuart Ryan, Maurice Logue, John Browne, Colm O Corcora, Seán O Corcora, Mark Goodison, Paul Gannon. Subs. - Podge Cousins, Neil Mac Aogáin, Gavin Doyle, Mick Bolger, Mark Rowe.
Wexford Wanderers seconds side faced league challengers and local neighbours Enniscorthy on Saturday evening last at Park Lane at a late kick-off time of 3 p.m. The home side, missing some regular players, did with a number of new faces and were strengthened by the availability of the replacements from the first side who were there as Wanderers firsts had been in action the previous night.
The visitors were also strengthened by the availability of players from a game played earlier in the afternoon in Enniscorthy. As with all derby matches with the sides, the contest was extremely close with Wanderers' scores coming from the boot of Cousins with two penalties and Goodison with a smashing try.
However, the visitors' league position relative to Wexford ensured they secured the points in a 16-11 win which moved them to the top of the league. The real success of the contest, however, was the blooding of new talent for Wanderers, with Gavin Kelly at wing forward and James Roche in the front row, while the Foley family had a unique and memorable experience when Conor Foley replaced the ever-improving Kevin Roche at scrum-half to play for the first time alongside his father, Pat, a veteran of the front row.
The performance of the pack was exceptional as they competed strongly at the breakdown and matched Enniscorthy around the pitch. Particularly strong performances were put in by Adam Cheevers, Keith Cullen, Willie Morris and Wayne O'Connor.
Coach Declan Rossiter, while disappointed with the result, can be very satisfied with the performance, particularly of the debutants who are working their way into the side from Wanderers' well-established and highly-successful youths section.
Team: Shane Byrne, Pat Foley, Adam Cheevers, Wayne O'Connor, Keith Cullen, Thomas Coleman, Michael Doyle, Neil Mac Aogáin, Kevin Roche, Stewart Brennan, Mark Doyle, Noel Richards, Mick Bolger, Pádraig Cousins, Kevin Forde. Subs. - G. Kelly, J. Roche, C. Foley, C. Geoghegan, M. McGuire.