Ross rule the roost in derby
Wanderers' revival in vain
New Ross got the result, and for 40 minutes the performance they wanted, but credit to Wexford Wanderers for a battling second-half which just fell short in this entertaining Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup opening round game played in Allianz Park, New Ross on Sunday.
New Ross 29 Wexford Wanderers 21
New Ross showed their intentions from the outset, pushing their way forward along the touchline and camping inside the Wanderers '22 for the opening ten minutes. Out-half Jared Dunbar controlled the opening phases of play as he drove his side forward with some excellent kicking.
With Kevin Treacy dominant in the line-outs, they drove at the Wanderers line, but despite their charges, strong defending from their opponents held them up short on a couple of occasions.
For the hosts a victory was a must having enjoyed quite a strong league campaign, while their opponents were coming up from the lower divisions with quite a young side. It was obvious that the home side's intentions were to take a foothold in their opponents' half from the outset and put them under pressure.
Following good possession from a line-out, New Ross moved the ball swiftly along the line with Dean Prendergast setting Matt Crowdle free with a pass, but the full-back was held just shot of the line by the recovering Corey Carty whose strong tackle saw the ball being spilled forward.
Wexford Wanderers to their credit were trying to run themselves out of trouble from inside their own '22. When they were awarded a penalty, relief turned to despair when Colm O Corcora failed to find touch.
New Ross utilised the possession as they spread the ball across wide, leaving David Crowdle to hold off several tackles to touch down, but Paddy Delaney was wide with the conversion attempt, leaving the score at 5-0.
It was a sign of things to come as New Ross continue to press the visitors. Despite this Wanderers continued to try to spread the game wide, but a misdirected pass fell to ground which was picked up by David Crowdle and he raced in under the posts for an opportunist try. Delaney added the points to give his side a 12-0 lead after 21 minutes.
New Ross were looking quite lively as they continued to create with some fine forward drives, but Wanderers enjoyed a fine passage of attacking play that saw the very impressive Conor Fenlon held up just short of the line.
Seven minutes before the break the home side returned to the visitors' '22 with the pack setting up out-half Jared Dunbar for his side's third try. Delaney was wide with the conversion attempt but they now looked comfortable, leading 17-0.
Wexford Wanderers needed a score before the break to lift their game. With the O Corcora brothers impressive in the centre, along with Bob Casey at out-half, No. 7 Conor Fenlon drove at the home side's line. From the resulting maul and drive, Mark Whelan got the touchdown, and with Colm O Corcora kicking the conversion, it left the scoreline 17-7 at the interval.
The home side were forced to defend on the resumption. Wanderers, after a penalty into the corner, saw Conor Fenlon win a clean line-out maul. From the subsequent rolling maul, replacement Kyle Roche was credited with the touchdown close to the corner. Colm O Corcora kicked an excellent conversion, reducing the deficit to 17-14 after 43 minutes.
However, New Ross showed courageous defence in the face of the visitors' early second-half onslaught. Having relieved their lines, they gradually edged their way forward, getting a crucial 56th-minute breakthrough when Jamie Cullen forced his way over for a try following a ruck close to the line. Dunbar added the conversion to make it 24-14.
Eight minutes from the end Wanderers hauled themselves right back into the game, with a wonderful passage of play started inside their own '22 as Conor Fenlon carried the ball forward. Following an inter-change of passes, Colm O Corcora saw the gap in midfield as he raced through from half-way for the best score of the game to touch down under the posts. The same player added the conversion, making it 24-21.
Play was now tense on both sides with Wanderers being handed an opportunity to draw level in injury time, but Colm O Corcora was just wide with a 40-metre penalty from out on the left.
With the clock ticking down, Wanderers continued to press forward but Matt Crowdle intercepted just inside his own half to race over for a try. Dunbar was wide with the conversion with the last kick of the game, but New Ross emerged with a deserved 29-21 victory.
The winners have been drawn away to New Ross in the next round.
Next up for Wanderers are two away trips to decide the fate of their ambitions in Division 3. Sunday sees a trip to Moate to face Midland Warriors before a must-win game the following week against leaders Balbriggan in what will certainly be the league decider.
New Ross: Matt Crowdle, Emmet Hall, David Crowdle, Jamie Cullen (capt.), Dean Prendergast, Jared Dunbar, Paddy Delaney, James Ryan, David Bailey, Kevin Browne, Shane Roche, Kieran Treacy, Foley Phillips, Seán Grace, Steve Roche. Replacements - Robert Dempsey, Seamus Doyle, Dale Redmond, Luke FitzGibbon, Des Cleary.
Wexford Wanderers: John Hyland, Josh Healy, Seán O Corcora (capt.), Colm O Corcora, Corey Carty, Rob Casey, Mick Bolger, John Rowe, Alan Kinsella, Shane Byrne, John Turner, Gavin Doyle, Aidan Stewart, Conor Fenlon, Mark Whelan. Replacements - Kevin Roche, Noel Richards, Kyle Roche, Dara Peyton, Will Morris.
Referee: Ian Hayes.