THE Kilkenny youths lost the game and some vital points, but gave a battling performance at New Ross in the Leinster League on Saturday.
This game was in the balance at the death, with one point between the sides and just 60 seconds left on the clock, but the deciding score went to the physically stronger Wexford lads.
Kilkenny, who led 12-10 at half-time, failed to build on an outstanding first half performance when playing against the wind. They weren’t helped by the fact that New Ross kicked four penalties out of four attempts while Kilkenny missed two out of three from the same range.
Poor kicking choices and tactical decisions brought New Ross back into the game at the start of the second half before the heavens opened, making it impossible to play constructive rugby. The Kilkenny lads showed they had learned lessons from last week as they were the better rugby side in the opening half, keeping ball in hand. They roared into the game, declining to kick into the wind and ran the ball well as they spent most of the half on the attack.
Three try opportunities were spurned at the tryline before Matthew McWey finally broke over after excellent work by the pack and centre Paddy Mullen.
The conversion hit the post, however, and a second attempt to stretch the lead from a penalty was missed before Ross gained a foothold in the game. They battered away at the line where, despite great defending from prop Nick Feehan, the New Ross number seven barged over for a converted try to leave the Wexford side 10-5 ahead.
Kilkenny refused to lie down. Great work by the back line brought the visitors to the 22 where, from a quickly-taken penalty, Gary Dunne crashed over for a try. Sean Moran added the conversion, leaving Kilkenny ahead by two at the break (12-10).
Turning with the wind Kilkenny had to put pressure on New Ross from the kick-off but for the second week running they kicked poorly and straight to touch. As the weather deteriorated New Ross began to play controlled ten man rugby. Kilkenny, who had been so aggressive in defence in the first half, started to tire as the big Ross pack started to force them back in the tackle.
With the game being played between the ten yards lines New Ross went back into the lead when they kicked a penalty 18 minutes into the second half. Already short several first choice forwards Kilkenny were further hampered by the loss of Connor Quinlan with a shoulder injury. Kilkenny were chasing the game when, in a final assault on the Kilkenny line, New Ross battered their way over near the corner for a score. To rub salt into the wounds they expertly kicked the conversion into the wind to deny Kilkenny a deserved bonus point.
Despite two losses to date Kilkenny are still in contention for play-offs. Next up is the visit of Leinster League holders Gorey for their round three clash on Saturday (kick-off 11.30am).
Kilkenny: Cormac Connolly, Jack Drew, Paddy Mullen, Sean Moran, Will Bergin, Peter Hutchinson, Matthew McWey, Ciaran Sutton, Cian Smith, John Curtin, Nick Feehan, Graham English, Connor Quinlan, Craig Murphy, Gary Dunne. Subs (used): Colin Corcoran, Aaron Summers, Danny Nolan, Sean Fitzgerald, Robbie Hennessy.