Leinster League 16/10/10
Kilkenny 10 Carlow 19
Kilkenny lost out in this highly entertaining but bruising encounter against the current Leinster league champions, played in perfect conditions at Foulkstown last Saturday where a combination of a dogged Carlow defence, and Kilkenny imprecision in attack meant Carlow left with the league points. However in defeat Kilkenny still put in their best performance of the year as they chased the game right up to the final whistle and a succession of chances were created that with more precision, patience and game management will see the team chase honours later in the season.
Kilkenny who were physically at a disadvantage to their counterparts conceded a penalty after 7 minutes of play to go behind. However they stuck to their game plan and several chances went a begging before a series of phases saw Liam McWey outflank the defence to score under the posts converted by Hugh Lane.
Unfortunately Kilkenny committed the cardinal error of knocking on the restart allowing Carlow an attacking scrum. Two phases later the Carlow right winger looped the back line to score in the left corner as the home defence failed to advance and close space .
A second Carlow penalty left the score 11 points to 7 at half time with Kilkenny turning to play with the slight breeze. However the Carlow physicality and superiority in contact was taking its toll as several Kilkenny players were carrying knocks, almost all received in the tackle area as Kilkenny lost a stream of ball in contact when trying to get passes away in the tackle.
The first 15 minutes of the second half were scoreless and listless until Kilkenny conceded a soft try as a kick out of defence was fielded and kicked back into the Kilkenny 22. A communication breakdown meant no one stayed to cover the full back position and with three Kilkenny players leaving the ball to each other the Carlow centre got to the bounce first to score an opportunist but fortuitous try.
Hugh lane kicked a penalty to reduce the gap until a Kilkenny penalty in their own 22 was overturned due to indiscipline and Carlow did not look the gift in the mouth kicking the goal after 18 minutes to lead 19 points to 10. This needless score was vital to the outcome as it influenced the home teams decision making as they needed 2 scores to win instead of 1. The home side proceeded to play their best rugby of the year without reward as Jack Cotter on the right wing was dispossessed in diving for a try with 12 mins remaining due to a desperate last gap tackle.
Poor skills when passing off the weaker left hand cost Kilkenny two certain tries when opportunities were created within 15 metres of the line while .the home had penalty opportunities to narrow the gap but Carlow to their credit defended a lineout kicked to the corner and a 5 yard scrum taken instead of 3 points from a penalty .
In the meantime Robbie Corcoran and Rikki Drennan foiled a certain Carlow try as a breakout due to Kilkenny turnover of ball in the Carlow left their winger Richie Bolger in an identical situation to the hat trick he scored in the last meeting of the sides. With 2 minutes remaining Kilkenny opted for a scrum in the opposition 22 and Carlow repulsed the attack to leave them lucky but worthy winners of the points.
Kilkenny can take great hearth from the performance as the defence was more organised than previous, despite the ridiculous concession of the match winning try, the lineout was superb in winning all bar two of their own balls due to the good throwing of Darren Knox and the lifting jumping and athleticism of Gary Dunne, Diarmuid Hickey and Tadhg O’Carroll in particular even if the delivery and end result was substandard for the first time the team were certain of their own ball.
Match day panel:
Cormac Connolly, Adam Jordon, Rikki Drennan, Jack Cotter, Sean Moran, Hugh Lane, Robbie Corcoran, Ciaran Sutton, Dara McGrath, Luke Kedney, John Curtin, James Rafter, Darren Knox, Nick Feehan, Tadhg O Carroll, Conor Quinlan, Craig Murphy, Diarmuid Hickey, Darragh Morrissey, Gary Dunne, Liam McWey.
Mick McGrath, 17th October 2010