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Kilkenny scrape victory in New Ross

Kilkenny  - 29
New Ross - 17

Kilkenny Under-15's made hard work of this South East League tie against New Ross on Saturday. New Ross with home advantage, failed to capitalise on Kilkenny's poor form.

Perhaps the bad weather had a role to play or maybe the journey to New Ross didn't suit the Cats. Whatever the reason, Kilkenny didn't play to their usual excellence and just did enough to come away with the points.

Head Coach, Steve Van Rooyen commented "It is satisfying to know that even when we don't perform to our usual best, we can still score beautiful tries and come away with the points".

Kilkenny started the stronger team and opened the scoring after only five minutes when they won a penalty in front of the posts about 25 metres out from the New Ross line. This was an opportunity to kick at goals but as there was a strong wind blowing across the pitch, Kilkenny decided to run the ball instead.

Matthew McWey took charge of the ball and drove towards the posts but was stopped just short of the line by the heavier opposition pack. With the forwards in support, he setup a ruck. Scrum-half, Jack Drew flashed the ball to Evan Treacy who passed to Niall Mullins who off-loaded to Sean Moran and looped around to collect the pop-pass and cross the line, managing to evade a number of New Ross defenders to touch down under the posts.

Treacy easily added the conversion points. This was a fine team-effort score and Kilkenny now seemed to be in control of the game but for whatever reason, they applied the brakes and allowed New Ross to play rugby. Eight minutes later, New Ross won a penalty just inside the Kilkenny 22. They opted to kick for posts and were successful in the attempt. New Ross were now in the driving seat and started running the ball at Kilkenny who now were missing vital tackles.

New Ross kept the ball among their forwards and were possibly guilty of over-using their enormous tight-head prop. Kilkenny quickly caught on to this and some great defensive work from James Rafter and Conor Quinlan soon stopped any charges from the tight-head.

This however did not stop the New Ross backline advancing. They started moving the ball around the pitch spreading the ball wide to their winger who broke through a series of Kilkenny miss-tackles only to face Darragh McGrath who put in a crunching tackle and drove the winger out into touch.

New Ross won the line-out and again their winger broke through only to face McGrath again who solidly disposed of the winger and won back possession for Kilkenny. The ball was flashed out along the backline and Peter Hutchinson crossed the line for a try but the score was disallowed as he was judged to have put a foot in touch.

Quinlan jumped high for the ball in the lineout and presented it to flanker John Curtin who gratefully accepted and thundered through the New Ross pack to touch down. Despite the heavy crosswind and difficult angle, Treacy judged the conversion kick perfectly and the ball sailed between the posts. Kilkenny went into the halftime break 14 - 3 in front.

Kilkenny, must have received a stern talking-to at the break, as they started the second half a much stronger side with McWey scoring a fine opportunistic try straight from the kick-off. For a few minutes it looked as if they would run away with game but again they applied the brakes and allowed New Ross back into the game.

Kilkenny were caught offside at a ruck straight in front of their posts and New Ross decided to kick for posts. The wind had picked up substantially at this stage and caught the ball, driving it just wide of the posts, a let-off for Kilkenny. It was all New Ross from that moment on. They added two converted tries in quick succession in the 15 th and 20 th minutes.

The champs were on the ropes and were now leading by only two points. It was time to shift up a gear and that is what they did. New Ross made a change to their front rows adding more weight up front. The Kilkenny front-row trio of James Rafter, Jim Moore and John Henrich didn't flinch despite the extra weight and drove hard in the scrums.

Lock, Conor Quinlan decided to add his name to the scoreboard and crossed the line in the 25 th minute. 4 minutes later captain, Cormac Connolly, crossed the line for a try and brought this contest to an end.

Although Kilkenny didn't perform to their best, they kept New Ross at bay for most of the game. New Ross never really looked like winning this contest but certainly gave Kilkenny a scare or two on occasions.
Kilkenny have to stop allowing the opposition to play rugby and tighten up in defence.

They will have to up their next game on Saturday when they meet arch-rivals Carlow in a friendly. Kick off is at 1pm - all spectators welcome.

Kilkenny - Cormac Connolly, Darragh McGrath, Peter Hutchinson, Sean Moran, Niall Mullins, Evan Treacy, Jack Drew, Jim Moore, John Henrich, James Rafter, Craig Murphy, Conor Quinlan, Ciaran Chandler, John Curtin, Matthew McWey.

Padraic Treacy - 3rd October 2009