Browne makes a splash in New Ross home win
New Ross 24 Arklow 10
A swimming proficiency test formed part of the warm-up procedures as New Ross and Arklow met in a sodden Southknock in the first round of the Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup competition on Sunday.
Indeed, it was a former New Ross Swimming Club member, Rory Browne, who continued his recent scoring form.
Reacting best to the conditions, he intercepted a long Arklow pass to canter home directly from the kick-off, getting over without a finger laid on him. Barry Walsh added the extras before most of the crowd had even got to the railings to view the encounter.
Arklow recovered quickly, though, taking advantage of an uncharacteristically loose New Ross line-out to march their way towards Southknock before eventually trundling the ball over wide on the left.
The conversion was missed, leaving the score at 7-5 with barely four minutes on the clock.
The game then settled into a period of heavy carrying and forwards battling for supremacy, with flashes of promise from the New Ross backs.
New Ross secured a scrum on the five-metre line and the ball was barely in when the referee signalled for a penalty try against Arklow for pulling down.
Soon afterwards, Seán Crowdle came close on the wide left after deft handling from brother David left him free on the New Ross ten-metre line before the heavy ground got the better of him. He ended up slipping and putting the ball in touch with five metres to go.
Some five minutes later, he made no mistake, though, after the forwards again secured a good ruck platform and the ball was flashed wide for Seán Crowdle to dive at the left corner.
At this stage, New Ross were well in control and within another few minutes, it was captain David
Crowdle's turn to cross in the right corner after good passing in the testing conditions created a huge overlap.
Into the second-half and this became a much more physical experience, with both teams trying to carry ball into the heart of the opposition.
Prominent New Ross workhorses included James Ryan, Shane Roche and Kieran Treacy before the latter was forced off with a head injury with about 20 minutes left.
Up and down the battle raged before Arklow finally breached the New Ross defence after 70 minutes at the end of a long period of sustained pressure during which the home side exhibited good discipline in not conceeding penalties.
The final score resolved at 24-10 and all repaired to the dressing-rooms to scrape about six inches of mud off themselves.
James Ryan took the man of the match award for his ever-willing and effective carrying, and the difficulty which Arklow players had in putting him to ground.
He was closely challenged by David Crowdle and Shane Roche for the honours.
New Ross should be pleased with the win in difficult conditions against a big and physical Arklow side, and they are now drawn away to Clondalkin in the next round on February 11.