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Clane First XV 24
Kilkenny Firsts XV 3

By Padraic Treacy

Clane RFC played hosts to Kilkenny 1st XV on Sunday in this Leinster League tie. Kilkenny sitting comfortably in second place on the table going into this game, could not capitalise on the numerous opportunities handed to them by their evidently weaker opposition. Perhaps the fact that the promised “Indian Summer” didn’t make an appearance or that Lady Luck had also decided to stay at home, resulted in Kilkenny not achieving this expected victory.

Kilkenny started the stronger and on 4 minutes were awarded a penalty in front of the Clane posts. Instead of kicking for goal, Ben Dyer decided to take a quick penalty but his attempt to cross the line was defended well by Clane and they overturned possession and kicked to touch, subduing the Kilkenny attack. Clane demonstrated that they were well up for a fight and moved up a gear and through clinical rucking and quick regeneration of the ball, crossed the Kilkenny line on 15 minutes to score their first try under the posts which was easily converted by their outhalf.

With Kilkenny now trailing, they reapplied the pressure from the restart with Willie Duggan gathering the ball superbly and driving forward into the Clane 22m where the home side were penalised for entering the ruck from the side. Again the penalty attempt went a-begging. This seemed to set a precedent for Kilkenny for the remainder of the game, with chance after chance going astray. Clane lifted their game and Kilkenny found themselves on the back-foot for the remainder of the half.

Apart from a few try saving tackles from Killian Everard and the ever present Willie Duggan, Kilkenny were lucky not to concede more points before the break. On the stroke of half-time Kilkenny were awarded a penalty inside the Clane 22. This was an opportunity for the visitors to close the gap going into the break, however the kick drifted left of the posts and wide.

Half-time score 7 – 0 to Clane

Kilkenny started the second half strong and on 43 minutes were awarded a penalty again in the Clane 22. However, Philly Walsh’s attempted kick at goal just went wide of the posts. 5 minutes later Clane were again penalised and this time fullback, Colm Brady, opened the scoring with a fine kick at goal.

Unfortunately for Kilkenny this was to be there one and only score. Despite every effort from the visitors to quell the home teams advance, Clane marched on from strength to strength. On 54 minutes, they broke the dead-lock and scored their second try which was not converted.

Kilkenny made a number of changes at this point, bringing on the experienced Alan McIntyre for Tristram Dyer. The final 20 minutes saw Kilkenny raise their game but Clane defended efficiently. Kilkenny were dealt a cruel blow with 10 minutes to play, when they lost their talisman Willie Duggan who, having received a knock on the head had to leave the pitch.

To add to their woes, shortly afterwards Killian Everard, chasing a superb kick ahead from Philly Walsh, won the race to the ball and just got his hand on it to touch down for a Kilkenny try. The referee however did not give Killian the benefit of the doubt and disallowed the try. On 78 minutes Clane crossed the line to score their third try and to add insult to injury, they crossed the line again 2 minutes later to seal the deal and secure the bonus point.

Final score 24 – 3 to Clane.

Although Kilkenny were at times unlucky, there is no doubting that Clane were the deserved winners. Kilkenny still have time to make good this defeat, but this will only be achieved when the whole squad are ready to step up and be counted.

Kilkenny are definitely the strongest team in this competition, but they have to realise they are the team that everyone wants to beat and therefore will not be handed games on a plate. Rob Kelly, Willie Duggan, James Coady and Killian Everard performed to their usual excellence, but it is now high time that the rest of the squad stopped relying on these players to win games for them.

Kilkenny have a break from Leinster League action this weekend, however they are at home to Wexford Wanderers in the South East League on Sunday, kick-off 3.00pm. A better performance and a successful outcome is expected from the coaching staff and supporters alike.

Kilkenny 1 st XV – Colm Brady, Alan Pembroke, Mark Coughlan, Lee Wilson, Killian Everard, Philly Walsh, Victor Harper, Willie Duggan, Tristram Dyer, Ger Costelloe, Ben Dyer, Gerry Clarke, Nigel Daly, James Coady, Wayne Kavanagh.

Substitutes – Kevin Oates, Alan McIntyre, Rob Kelly, Alan O’Donovan, Conor Phelan.

Padraic Treacy, 10th October 2010