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  U13s KILKENNY 12 -22 NAAS

Leinster Cup Quarter Final
Sunday 21/02/10

On a fine day, in front of a large crowd a hard fought, entertaining game of rugby was played out on Kilkenny’s home ground. The early minutes were cagey and evenly balanced with Kilkenny prop Mark Carrigan making one powerful run after charging through on a scrappy Naas line out. However a big Naas team burst into the lead after eight minutes when a powerful 35 metre run by their centre, facilitated by a couple of weak tackles, led to a try under the posts.

Kilkenny regrouped and came back strongly, dominating territory for most of the rest of the half. Wing Lyndon Brannigan made a good run into the Naas half after a quarter of an hour and a minute later good pressure by Kilkenny from a series of rucks and scrums led to a penalty on the Naas 22.

Out half Jake McDonald was unlucky to see his attempt come back off the crossbar but from the resulting clearance kick, left wing Paddy Ryan sped back at Naas and was only halted by a high tackle. Kilkenny opted to kick for touch, won the line out and good drives by No. 8 Daniel O’Connor and captain Ben Devlin gave big Mark Carrigan the chance to plough over for a try from 5 metres out.

A good Naas attack shortly afterward was halted by a fine tackle from Michael Ryan and the ball turned over by his alert centre partner William Spencer. Full back Daniel O’Connor was also showing well taking two high balls in succession and returning both with great pace.

Unfortunately Kilkenny were guilty of some naive defending of their own ruck ball all game allowing Naas forwards to lie over the ball, come in from the side of rucks and play the ball on the floor with impunity. With Naas possessing a very dangerous back line this was a failing for which Kilkenny were to be severely punished.

The half ended with a powerful burst from a Naas prop from a tapped penalty being stopped with a shuddering hit from hard working second row Finn Connolly and a score of 7 points to 5 to Naas.

The second started well for Kilkenny with hooker Ben Devlin snapping up a messy Naas line out after 5 minutes and setting up quick ruck ball that was whipped across the back line before Paddy Ryan was well tackled into touch.

In the next ten minutes however Naas were to deliver two sucker punches, almost carbon copies of each other that took the game away from the home side. Both moves came from scrums on the Kilkenny 10 metre line, both featured just a couple of quick, simple passes before firstly Naas’s right wing and then a very mobile prop were haring in for tries. The latter player let himself down badly with an offensive hand gesture towards his opponents as he ran in for the try that was to bring the score to 21 points to 5 to Naas.

In fairness the incident was an isolated one in a game that was otherwise contested sportingly and his coaches were very firm in letting the young lad know that he was out of order.

Kilkenny showed that they were no quitters and took the game back to Naas with great commitment and team spirit. Pressure from Jake McDonald forced the Naas out half into a hurried clearance that was returned powerfully by replacement prop Eoin Clarkson.

A couple of minutes later and two more replacements, back row Brendan McSorley and wing Darren Mullen, combined to turn over Naas ball and start a lovely back move across the pitch featuring electrifying runs from Michael Ryan, twice, the other replacement wing Joe Connolly and Kilkenny’s 8 & 9 O’Connor and Ian Buckley before Kilkenny were awarded a penalty inside the 22.

Playing a skipper’s role to the end Ben Devlin took the penalty quickly and stormed towards the line before offloading expertly to ‘Doc’ who powered over from 5 metres from the final score. Prop Gareth Graham, and back rows Aiden McDonald and Brendan McSorley produced excellent tackling displays but top tackler on the day was out half Jake McDonald who recovered from a frustrating first half to control the game much better in the second.

The final score was 21 – 12 to Naas who take our best wishes into the rest of the competition.

Niall McDermott 21/02/10