Ross to be crowned despite narrow loss
New Ross firsts and seconds made the trip to Athy on Sunday with the firsts knowing that two match points would be enough to be mathematically certain of a Leinster League win.
Athy 10 New Ross 8
The seconds lost out 33-15 to Athy who were crowned J2/J3 league winners for the season.
With the weather cold and a strong crosswind blowing, the firsts' match was always going to be a tight affair.
Ross had the better of the play in the first 30 minutes but the match remained scoreless until a penalty finally broke the deadlock to leave the visitors ahead at half-time.
Fifteen minutes into the second-half, Ross tacked on a try after a scrum, with the ball spread wide to the wing before being returned all the way to the other wing for Kieran Butler to get over the whitewash.
The wind interfered with any possibility of a successful conversion, leaving the scoreline at 8-0.
After 62 minutes, Athy scored a try and converted it to reduce the margin to the minimum.
This was followed up by a sustained period of Athy pressure on the Ross line, with a penalty eventually being coughed up which allowed Athy to take the lead into the final stages.
Late on, Kieran Butler must have felt he had secured the win after diving over in the corner, only to be ruled in touch in what must have been a very marginal call.
The match finished 10-8 to Athy, meaning that the single bonus point gathered by New Ross might not have been enough to secure the title this weekend.
But with Arklow securing a draw against Wexford, it has become certain that New Ross will be declared champions, an event which will happen next Sunday in Allianz Park at the last match of the season when Arklow come to visit.