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New Ross 20 Kilkenny 17

Cold December days need something to warm the body and keep the mind alert. Last Sunday's Leinster League game in New Ross had just that. The only pity was that the first half was kind to the home side while the second half gave visiting Kilkenny plenty of cheer.

It was the home side however who came out on top after a great battle. The days of going to the South Wexford town and achieving an easy victory is long over. This current side have plenty of ability and well able to use it. They needed everything they had learned over recent years to beat Kilkenny last Sunday.

At half time even a bonus point looked outside Kilkennys reach. They trailed by 20 points to nil and looked a little disjointed. Their performance was not bad but they found it hard to find a pattern which might give them scores. When the scoreline should have been 6 points to 3 after 30 minutes it read 13 points to nil instead.

New Ross full back Donal Byrne kicked two penalties while Julian Hughes effort hit the posts. Then a move along the backline proved disastorous for Kilkenny when the New Ross centre Kieran Howlin intercepted and ran in for a converted try under the posts. When No 8 Kieran Moloney touched down for a converted try in the 25th minute the game looked good and over for the visiting side.

A Kilkenny penalty early in the second half was off target before the team began to find a rhythm. It was 7 minutes into the half when Alan McIntyre and Alan Pembroke set up winger Mick O Grady for a try. Then Kilkenny pressure resulted in a penalty being awarded to them. They opted to kick to touch and Philip Ryan won the lineout before setting up James Cody for a try. Now the score was 20 points to 10 and the tempo was upped.

With ten minutes remaining a super Kilkenny move which had backs and forwards involved was polished off by Conor Phelan for a try converted by Julian Hughes. Now three points divided the teams andKilkenny were very much on top and sensing victory. The home side must be complimented for they dug deep and held out for the league points.

Kilkenny will be disappointed with their first half performance but can take solace for the effort put in during the second period.

The seconds had a super victory over the same oposition by 11 points to 6 after a thrilling and entertaining 80 minutes. The Kilkenny try came courtesy of Dave Matthews one of the great clubmen of recent times. He celebrated 20 years as a player on Sunday and scoring a try made it extra special. Matthews contribution is not alone as a player but also as a commitee member.He has seved as social secretary and whatever portfolio the club requests. He is the ideal role model for those around him and he was not alone in rejoicing his long service and victory last Sunday evening.

Joey Manuel has played his last game for the club for the foreseeable future as he returns home to his native New Zealand. He played through the youths sector before playing senior rugby along with a stint at Shannon. The club wish him well and hope to see him return in the near future.

The members also would like to wish Pat Kenny a speedy recovery from his recent operation. Always the smiling face behind the bar and a great man to welcome visitors to the club. He was only too ready to play the role of Santa Claus for the Christmas party and one in which he excelled. If he had one fault it was his over exhuberance in playing the friendly father Christmas and making sure every child went home happy.

The photography work done by Ross Harding has to be acknowledged. The former player has been taking photos at matches and putting them on his laptop to show to the players on Sunday nights. The players are delighted to see incidents during the game and really appreciate the effort. The players intend holding their Christmas party in the club next Saturday evening and those interested should contact the web site for up to date details.

The next home game will be at home to Tullow on January10th.

Kilkenny: W Kavanagh J Cody M Vidella V Ryan J Blanchfield L Phelan A McIntyre J Phelan N Daly J Hughes M O Grady A Pembroke C Phelan G Hayes K Everard P Ryan

Seconds K Brennan T Massey V O Shea S Manuel J Manuel Q Hearne B Daly E Brennan B Nolan M Hennigan J Corr C Bass G Costelloe B McIntyre D Matthews J Dunne P McCorry A O Donovan Iko Tvildiani from Georgia

Sean O'Shea