Enniscorthy best in rugby derby
Leinster League Division 1A
The old dogs for the hard road. Enniscorthy silenced the noisy neighbours from Gorey to extend their lead at the top of the Leinster League Division 1A, making all their experience count in the second-half of a highly competitive fixture.
Enniscorthy 28 Gorey 20
Gorey followers arrived at the Ross Road on Saturday night in their droves to cheer on their young side, which has made such an encouraging start to the season, but they left with not so much as a consolation bonus point.
There was much to shout about in the visitors' first-half showing, with Jordan Ahern's two tries the highlight, which earned them a slim lead at the interval on a greasy pitch where little in the way of flowing rugby was possible.
However, they were bested in the end after Enniscorthy displayed plenty of cunning following the break as they kicked astutely and took their chances, whereas Gorey had thrown away opportunities before the interval.
With spectators roaring and floodlights glaring, the stage was set for a full-blooded local derby, with the opening exchanges more blood and thunder than coolly calculated play.
'Town suffered the early loss through injury of Tomás Stamp but still took the lead thanks to centre Killian Lett bursting at speed through to the line in the left corner, with Ivan Poole adding a fine conversion from wide.
Poole's contribution with the boot helped to keep the hosts in contention for the remainder of the half as Gorey began to cash in on Stamp's departure to make hay at the line-outs, repeatedly robbing their opponents' ball out of touch.
The pack then mauled forward impressively, building up the pressure from which Ahern claimed his brace of touchdowns, the first in the right corner and then in the left.
They would have done better still but for some ill-discipline which prompted the Munster referee to reverse a couple of penalties, one of them popped over by Poole from close to halfway.
The half-time score favoured the visitors 15-13.
But if the initial 40 minutes were dominated by the Gorey line-out and maul, the closing stages were determined by Enniscorthy's strength in the scrums coupled with some inspired kicking out of the hand.
Though Gorey survived the sin-binning of teenage prop Darragh Bellanova without conceding, the league leaders crept ahead on 53 minutes after one mighty heave yielded a penalty, too close to the posts for Poole to miss.
The out-half was on the mark from the tee again shortly afterwards but his side was still only an edgy four points to the good, and the eventual winners needed a try to shake off the always eager pursuit.
The five-pointer was duly delivered after full-back Ross Barbour launched a wonder kick more than half the length of the pitch, turning defence into rampant attack at a stroke.
Gorey's back-pedalling defence was at full stretch and finally tore to allow Killian Lett his second try, converted to make the score 28-15.
With no more than eight minutes remaining, Enniscorthy had the win in the bag but Gorey pressed with undiminished enthusiasm in the closing minutes, forcing Davy Murphy into a yellow card offence.
Scrum-half Stephen Horan, who was excellent throughout, was thwarted within inches of the line and in the end Andy Hollanad forced his way over the line to close the gap to eight. When Duke's conversion attempt from far out left sailed wide, the bonus point was denied and the final whistle sounded.
Enniscorthy: Ross Barbour; David O'Dwyer, Damien McCabe, Killian Lett (two tries), Ivan Jacob; Ivan Poole (four penalties, two conversions), Evan Lett; Angelo Todisco, Davy Murphy, Paddy Waters; Tomás Stamp, Joseph Bulmer; Tom Ryan, Greg Jacob, Timmy Morrissey. Subs. - Mark Whelan for Stamp (3), James Doyle for Murphy (53), Daniel Pim for McCabe (53), McCabe for Morrissey (62).
Gorey: Garret Bater; Shane O'Leary, Eoin Walsh, Andy Holland, Andrew Walsh; Stephen Duke (one conversion, one penalty), Stephen Horan; Richard Deering, Barry O'Connor, Darragh Bellanova; J.P. Redmond, Stephen Gardiner; Willie Earle, Michael Woods, Jordan Ahern (two tries). Subs. - Fergal Bolger for O'Connor (40), Dylan Gregan for Ahern (42), Matt Boden (try) for E. Walsh (60).