Ross scrape through
New Ross progressed to the next round of the Plate by the narrowest of margins when they travelled to Athy on Sunday and came away with a hard-fought victory.
New Ross 7 Athy 6
Played in ideal conditions and on a firm pitch, the stage was set for a continuation of the feast of running rugby we witnessed on Saturday. However, the purists were to be disappointed as two very evenly-matched teams struggled to breach excellent defences.
New Ross started very strongly and a series of good drives from the forwards were rewarded by a penalty just outside the Athy 22-metre line and to the right of the posts. The kick was just wide of the upright but for the next 20 minutes New Ross applied all the pressure but were unable to convert their dominance into scores.
The home side gradually came more into the game and worked their way deep into the New Ross '22. Desperately defending their line, New Ross were forced to concede a series of penalties which eventually led to a yellow card on 25 minutes.
Athy then increased the pressure but the New Ross defence held firm. A last-gasp tackle from Dean Prendergast prevented a certain try on the half hour.
Having failed to cross the try line, Athy eventually opted to kick for the posts on the stroke of half-time but were wide with the attempt. The teams entered the break with no score and everything to play for.
New Ross started the second-half in the same fashion as the first by applying early pressure which led to a penalty kick but again it was wide of the mark. On seven minutes Athy were awarded a penalty and when the referee advanced it a further ten yards thehy converted to take a 3-0 lead.
Six minutes later they extended their lead to six points but the New Ross response was swift. From the kick-off strong pressure yielded a penalty inside the Athy half. Quick thinking by Shane Roche saw him tap the penalty to himself and make ground before off-loading to Kevin Browne who touched down beside the posts. Jared Dunbar added the conversion and New Ross were now a solitary point in front.
Both teams had further opportunities with the boot but were unable to convert them into scores. The final ten minutes saw Athy camped on the New Ross line but superb defence denied them the try they were seeking. Eventually, in the final action of the match, they were awarded a penalty but when the kick went wide the referee signalled the end of the game and New Ross progressed to host Navan in the next round.
This was a tough, uncompromising game and the New Ross contingent of Under-19 players, Niall Coughlan at scrum-half, Dale Redmond at prop and Garreth Browne on the wing, all played their part in the victory.
The win can be laid at the door of a rock-solid defence which was well led by the veteran player/coach, Jared Dunbar, who was superb in the tackle throughout. The fixture was also notable for the fielding of three New Ross brothers, David, Matt and Seán Crowdle.