New Ross 10 Kilkenny 12
Culliton Cup Round 2
Kilkenny advanced to the quarter final of the Leinster Cup when they finally overcame a huge challenge from a fully committed New Ross side after an absorbing encounter played in ideal conditions in New Ross last Saturday. New Ross despite being underdogs having lost to Kilkenny twice this season were quietly confident of causing an upset having overcome a fancied Athy team in the first round while Kilkenny knew they had to impose themselves from an early stage and not give Ross confidence.
In the end the Kilkenny side deserve credit for rescuing the game from the fire, coming from behind with six minutes remaining and scoring an excellent converted try by Sean Moran to get their noses in front while Ross were left kicking themselves as they could have had the game sewn up by then. The root of Kilkenny’s problem was an almost lazy start where Kilkenny without any hint of physicality or commitment tried to run around the Wexford boys from the start when playing with the hill.
Ross tackled and dispossessed Kilkenny players in the contact area at will in the early stages leading to a penalty by scrum half Gavin weir after 8 minutes and a surge in confidence meant they took the game to the Kilkenny boys. After 19 minutes a Ross attack was being defended on the Kilkenny 22 and the defenders outnumbered the attackers. With nowhere to go ,the ball was passed to the big prop O Brien who ran straight into the wall of Kilkenny players who inexplicably parted like the Red sea and O Brien could not believe his luck as he crossed the line unopposed and untackled for a converted New Ross try to leave them 10 points to the good. Kilkenny finally woke up.
A measure of their lack of physicality at that stage was it took until the 23rd minute before Kilkenny won their first penalty of the game meaning their lineout attack was non-existent. After 26 minutes some excellent attacking play was rewarded as after a series of forward surges to the left created space the ball went quickly through backs hands for Gary Dunne to score in the right corner with Paddy Mullen available outside. Kilkenny attacked from then to the break and could have been awarded a penalty try, as after four forward drives a New Ross player deliberately infringed in the ruck as Kilkenny were about to score and Hugh Lane was high tackled under the posts from the subsequent advantage.
Opting for the scrum instead of taking points to narrow the gap Kilkenny were penalised and Ross cleared their lines leaving them ahead ten points to five at half time. Playing against the hill Kilkenny made a bright start to the second half and secured a lineout on the Ross five metre line and a levelling score looked on but a crooked feed allowed Ross off the hook and for the next 25 minutes they kept Kilkenny pinned deep in their own 22.
After 18 minutes of the second half Kilkenny were still trying to play their way through a fired up new Ross back line and back row when a heads up approach would have seen a simple skip pass outflank the blitz defence. Only a try saving tackle by Paddy Mullen in the left corner saved Kilkenny as the attacker dived to score what looked a certain try only for the ball to fall from his grasp in the tackle.
A mix up by centres Moran and Jordan almost sealed the game for New ross as the tackle was not made and with an overlap New Ross made a wrong decision saving Kilkenny again while with 8 minutes to go indiscipline with hands in the ruck led to a penalty for New Ross from the 22 almost in front of the posts. The kick hit the outside of the posts and went wide much to Kilkenny relief as an eight point gap would have needed three scores. With the kick went the New Ross side’s chance of victory as Kilkenny showed great character and tactical awareness to win the game.
Winning the restart they patiently worked the ball up the pitch phase retaining the ball and driving the defence backwards until a gap occurred and again with quick hands the ball was transferred to Sean Moran whose break resulted in a great try with Mullen again available outside and creating the space. Moran converted the difficult kick and Kilkenny finally taking the game to New Ross finished on the offensive as their pressure produced a string of penalties to keep New Ross pegged back in their half till the final whistle.
While the initial stages would have proven disastrous against a team with some finishers as Kilkenny would have been further behind than ten points great credit is due for the manner in which they dug themselves out of the hole they created for themselves and the composure they showed in the end was admirable while both of their tries were excellently constructed.
On a day where the team as a whole were flat until the latter stages the wingers Paddy Mullen and Rikki Drennan were physical and threatening throughout the game with Robbie Corcoran playing his first game after several weeks out through injury excellent in all phases of the game while the work rate especially in the middle third of the game of captain Diarmuid Hickey and the scrummaging of props Mick King and Darren Knox a key factor in turning the tide in Kilkenny’s favour. With Kilkenny now waiting to play the winners of Clane and Clondalkin a semi-final place is very attainable if the locals take the game to their opponents from the start.
Team: Cormac Connolly , Paddy Mullen , Hugh Lane , Adam Jordan , Rikki Drennan , Sean Moran , Robbie Corcoran , Mick King , John Curtin , Darren Knox , Darragh Morrissey , Tadhg O Carroll , Liam McWey , Gary Dunne , Diarmuid Hickey. Subs. Conor Quinlan, Will Bergin, Ciaran Sutton, James Rafter
Mick McGrath, 03, March, 2011