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U13 South East League Final 12/12/09

Kilkenny 17-07 Wexford

On a bright, clear day in front of a large crowd Kilkenny and Wexford played out a hugely committed and entertaining final at New Ross Rugby Club.

Kilkenny got hold of the ball from the kick off and for the next five minutes exerted constant pressure on the Wexford defence, including a couple of strong runs from Mark Carrigan and a monster tackle from hooker Ben Devlin, which yielded a penalty which out half Jake McDonald converted coolly.

The few minutes after this score saw Kilkenny with the majority of possession but a wayward pass intercepted by a Wexford centre saw him streak in for a try under the posts after 8 minutes.

This score gave great confidence to Wexford and it took a fine tackle by prop Gareth Graham on another speedy Wexford back to stop a second long range try.

20 minutes into the game and a scrum was awarded to Wexford 15 metres into Kilkenny's half. A strike against the head by Kilkenny saw the ball spun out to full back Daniel O'Connor who raced into the Wexford half before setting the ball back to be whipped back across the pitch to hard working back row Jay Leahy. Leahy burst past two defenders before being tackled on the Wexford 22.

Here the first of a string of penalties for persistent off side was quickly taken by Kilkenny and an attacking scrum won 5 metres out for a defensive knock on. Big No. 8 Daniel O'Connor picked up from the back of the scrum and powered over for a try converted by out half McDonald.

Despite some fine play by both sides this was the final score of the half leaving Kilkenny leading by just 10 points to 7 at the break.

After 8 minutes Brendan McSorley came on in the second row to replace captain for the day Finn Connolly who had run and tackled himself to a standstill right from the first whistle.

The Kilkenny forwards now began to really ramp up the pressure with a series of rucks and drives which constantly sapped the energy of the Wexford defenders. No. 8 O'Connor and front row colleagues Devlin and Graham hammered the ball up to the Wexford 22. A desperate clearing kick brought play back to the half way line but lung bursting runs by No. 8 O'Connor again and wing Paddy Ryan had the Wexford defence scrambling on their own 22 once more.

Second row partners McSorley and Noel Whelan, backed up once more by the tireless Ben Devlin, brought play almost to the Wexford try line where the excellent openside Aiden McDonald was just bundled into touch. McDonald was straight back in the thick of things from the line out blocking down the out half's attempted clearance and forcing Wexford to touch down behind their own line.

More relentless driving, well orchestrated by scrum half Ian Buckley, got the ball to ' Doc' five metres out and the unstoppable back row powered over for his second try of the day.

Kilkenny continued to strengthen their stranglehold on the game, refusing to allow the beleaguered Wexford tacklers a moment's rest. More hard running by the indefatigable Brendan McSorley and big 'Doc' and a series of eye catching bursts by replacement prop Eoin Clarkson meant Kilkenny were dominating possession and territory.

The one decent move Wexford were able to mount at this stage was brought to an abrupt halt with a bone jarring tackle from second row McSorley. As the game ended it's final stages more Kilkenny pressure, featuring good runs by centre William Spencer and replacement wing Alex Foley, nearly worked their No. 8 in for his hat trick but a pulsating contest finished Kilkenny 17 points, Wexford 7.

Niall McDermott, 12th Decemebr 2009