Joe Manual was out injured and he was a huge loss to Kilkenny
Kilkenny got a scare and escaped against North Kildare two weeks ago, but they were brought crashed down to earth by Suttonians on Sunday in the Leinster Junior League, Division 1B.
Kilkenny started exceptionally well, with full-back Liam Caddy scoring an early try, earning them a 5-nil lead.
Strong forward play, coupled with smart attacking lines, afforded Caddy his opportunity.
During the opening 20 minutes Kilkenny were guardians of the football, allowing their hosts little possession.
However, the visitors failed to capitalise on all this possession.
In the 20th minute an error in the Kilkenny forwards eventually allowed Sutton some attacking ball. The home side got deep in enemy territory and impressive No. 12 Henry Bryce pierced the defence and trotted in under the posts. With the conversion points added, Sutton were in front.
For the next 20 minutes Kilkenny huffed, puffed and huffed some more but they failed to build on hard won possession.
The forwards held their own in the scrum. However, the absence of guiding hooker Martin Leahy was noticeable at lineout time.
The maul was poor, but through the strong work of the forwards, notably Alan McIntyre and Simon O’Shea, Kilkenny drove deep inside the Sutton half.
Scrum-half Dearan McGrath was given fast ball, and when it was spread wide Sean Moran was away. He was fouled and referee Susan Carthy had no option but to show a red card.
Kilkenny kicked to the corner. This looked like the Cats opportunity to turn the screws.
The street wise Sutton pack used every fragment of their guile and cunning to hold Kilkenny out. The visitors held possession for eight phases but the home side constantly slowed ball down.
Sutton eventually forced a Kilkenny handling error and the referee blew the half time whistle.
Resuming with 14 men and against the strong wind, Sutton looked vulnerable.
An early try lifted Sutton. Again the thorn in the Kilkenny side was Henry Bryce, who made the break and score for another under the posts try (14-5).
For the next 10 minutes Kilkenny work exceptionally hard. Again Liam Caddy was the key attacker.
The agile full-back capitalised on strong forward play, with Simon O’Shea and Graham Logan making the hard yards. Jake McDonald and Seam Moran linked and released Caddy, who went over in the corner (14-10).
Only five minutes later Jake McDonald reduced the deficit to a single point when he kicked a penalty.
From this point on Sutton took complete control. They added a third try in the 60th minute to give a scoreline of 21-13.
Kilkenny met similar challenges this season and survived, but on this day they were flat.
Suttonians added a fourth bonus try in the 75th minute.
The Kilkenny pack did okay in terms of ball retention and continuity play, however they failed in defence.
On too many occasions Sutton were able to find and exploited gaps in the fringe areas around rucks.
Few forwards stood out. Jason Connolly and Simon O’Shea were the pick of the front eight.
Kilkenny were without potent attackers Joe Manuel and Podge Mahon, who were nursing knocks. Without Manuel and Mahon the woes in the back line were clear, with the exception of the fine efforts of Liam Caddy and Sean Moran.
Three genuine scoring opportunities were missed by the backs; one with a four man overlap when a decision was taken to grubber kick through which allowed Sutton mop up and clear their lines.
Kilkenny now have a free weekend, but they need the time to sort problems.
Next up is a home match against Clondalkin.
Kilkenny Firsts - Conor Dempsey, Hugh O’Brien, Simon O’Shea, Andy Nyenhuis, Graham Logan, Alan McIntyre, Jason Connolly, Wes Carter, Dearan McGrath, Jake McDonald (3pts, one penalty), Lyndon Brannigan, Aidan McDonald, Ti Lewington, Sean Moran, Liam Caddy (10pts, two tries). Subs - Ben Devlin, Kyle Edwards, Darragh Farragher, Hugh Lane, Idris Rqibi
The Kilkenny Seconds put a strong run of three consecutive wins together, but this time they were beaten by two points by Suttonians (22-20).
A strong team took the field against sixth placed Suttonians. Played in a strong easterly wind it was clear that management of the conditions would be a factor.
From the off both teams looked to play an expansive game. Kilkenny broke the deadlock in the 20th minute through center Hugh Lane, who crossed for his 10th of the campaign and is currently the clubs top try scorer.
With their backs to the wind Kilkenny took everything Sutton threw a them. Sutton played a varied game of tight forward play and flowing attacks from the back.
Strong defending by Ronan Moran and stalwart Brendan McIntyre kept the Dubliners at bay. Cormac Connolly’s clearance kicks were exceptional and kept the pressure in Sutton territory.
Kilkenny failed to press the Sutton lineouts, allowing the hosts uncontested opportunists to regain possession.
Sutton used their own defensive lineouts as a platform to attack from deep. Kilkenny did very well to hold them out.
The half time score was 0-5 in favour of the visitors.
Knowing Suttonians had use of the wind to come, coach Barry Daly asked his side to play a simple pick and go game and to attack around the corners.
Kevin Brennan was introduced in place of Ben Devlin while Eddie Brennan made way for Liam O’Neill and stalwarts Seamus Corcoran and James Blanchfield swapped while Hugh Lane, who was withdrawn to sub for the First team, was replaced by Sean Flynn.
The second half was a far more entertaining affair. Both sides went for a win.
Sutton struck first. In the 50th minute they crossed for a converted try, bringing the score line 7-5.
Following a prolonged period of pressure Cormac Connolly dropped a 45 metre goal attempt over the bar; 7-8 to Kilkenny.
On the hour Sutton hit a purple patch and scored two quick tries to jump 17-8 in front.
Kilkenny responded through prop Kyle Edwards, who, following a 20 metre barreling run crossed to bring the scoreline to 17-13.
An error on the kick off gave Sutton position for an attacking lineout. They launched their back line and their right winger went over in the corner, extending the lead to 22-13.
Kilkenny worked their way deep into enemy territory and forced a penalty. Connolly found touch. Brennan found Blanchfield and Kilkenny mauled towards the line.
The Kilkenny scrum half passed the ball out to the backs. Jamie Quane took a super inside to out line and drifted between two defenders to score under the posts.
Connolly added the extras and with five minutes remaining the deficit was down to just two points. A knock on from the kick off didn’t help Kilkenny, but refusing to give up they gave it their all but were beaten by the clock.
Kilkenny will feel this was a game that slipped away. The game plan was not accurately executed and work will be needed to improve on this facet for the upcoming game at home to Clondalkin.
Team management of Manuel, Daly and Lawler made the players aware of the shortcomings following the game and insisted that individual performances do not make a team.
On a day when their winning run ended a handful of players stood out. In the pack Brendan McIntyre was his usual effective self. Seamus Corcoran carried well while in the back line Jamie Quane was the standout performer.
Kilkenny remain in third position in the Leinster League just four point off the top, which is good at this time of the season.
Kilkenny Seconds - Ken Shirley, Ben Devlin, Eddie Brennan, Brendan McIntyre, Seamus Corcoran, Killian Armstrong, Ronan Moran, Kyle Edwards (5pts, one try), Ciaran Sutton, Cormac Connolly (5pts, 1 GD, 1 conversion), Orrin Ryan, Jamie Quane (5pts, 1 try), Hugh Lane (5pts, 1 try), Aidan Lawler, Alan O’Donovan. Subs - Liam O’Neill, Kevin Brennan, James Blanchfield, Sean Flynn, Darragh Morrissey.