J1: Friendly, Saturday 16th October 2010
Kilkenny 3-24 Portlaoise
Kilkenny firsts played host to Portlaoise in a friendly game at Foulkstown on Saturday evening last. In what was to be a chance for both teams to try out new players Portlaoise were to come out on top, scoring three converted tries and one penalty to Kilkenny’s single penalty.
Kilkenny made seven changes to their starting line up from the previous week’s loss to Clane. With the seconds not playing it was a chance for players to stake their claim for places in the Firsts fifteen. Of those who moved up Johnny Corr and Hubert De Bertia stood out and a welcome return to Joe Manuel in the centre that also impressed.
The game started with a kick off which saw Portlaoise take possession and take the game from Kilkenny from the off. Poor chasing and inadequate tackling saw the home team on the back foot from the off. Some last gasp tackling from Victor Harper and winger Alan O’Donovan kept Portlaoise from registering an early score. Kilkenny’s scrum was under severe pressure from a bigger and more mobile pack, and this proved to be the Noresiders downfall. As Portlaoise registered the first score after fifteen minutes from excellent work from their forwards was fed to their backs to score a converted try under the posts.
Kilkenny regrouped and played some good rugby for the next ten minutes using the strength of centre Joe Manuel and speed of Mark Coughlan out wide but could not breech the Portlaoise line. Portlaoise were to own the ball for long periods with their forwards and backs combining well to put Kilkenny on the back foot and again some excellent tackling by Alan McIntyre, Alan O’Donovan and Colm Brady kept Portlaoise from scoring another try.
Kilkenny were to convert their first and only score of the game after thirty minutes when awarded a penalty in front of the posts Conor O’Brian stepped up to put the ball over the bar to leave the score at 7-3 to the visitors. Some more poor tackling from Kilkenny saw the Portlaoise backs gain territory in the Kilkenny half and a penalty awarded to the visitors on thirty-five minutes was duly converted by their out half to leave the score 10-3 at half time.
Some stern words from coaches Barry Daly and Enda Cantwell at the break fell on deaf ears as Kilkenny’s scrum, lineout and rucking was non-existent at the re-start. With head coach Paddy McDonald away on coaching business with Leinster the players seemed to take the foot off the pedal. Enda Cantwell made four changes in the pack which strengthened the scrum. Also two changes in the backs seemed to waken Kilkenny.
Hubert De Bertia put in some crunching tackles and never tired as did Robert Kelly and Johnny Corr. Some great possession never materialised into scores for Kilkenny and Portlaoise again were first to score with another try and conversion to extend the lead to 17-3 after fifty minutes.
Assistant coach Cantwell again made three more changes but the game was still being played in Kilkenny’s half. Again Kilkenny defended their line and eventually kicked a long ball down the pitch and for fifteen minutes really should have scored with some great pressure being put on Portlaoise no score materialised and again the visitors scored a try in the last five minutes to finish the scoring and leave the scoreboard at 24-3.
Kilkenny had fine performances with Hubert De Bertia, Johnny Corr, Robert Kelly, Alan O’Donovan, Alan McIntyre, Nigel Daly and Joe Manuel playing well. Next week sees Kilkenny Firsts and Seconds play host to Mullingar in Foulkstown at 1:30pm and 3:30pm. A bit more support from more senior members of the club would be appreciated as Kilkenny need to at least win all their home games in the difficult Leinster League.
Team: 1. Kevin Oates 2. Robert Kelly 3. Nigel Daly 4. Johnny Corr 5. Ben Dyer 6. Alan McIntyre 7. Hubert De Bertia 8. Ger Costello 9. Victor Harper 10. Conor O’Brian 11. Alan O’Donovan 12. Joe Manuel 13. Conor Phelan 14. Mark Coughlan 15. Colm Brady
W. P. Loosehead, 17th October 2010