After an indifferent start in the Leinster Senior League, losing narrowly to Kilkenny (5-3) and CUS (10-3) respectively, the Senior Cup Squad played some very enterprising rugby and overcame a very dogged Wesley XV in Newbridge College on Wednesday. This was an excellent game of rugby played by two well drilled teams both intent on creating scoring chances at every opportunity.
The Wesley pack played a typical robust forward game and caused a lot of difficulties for the Newbridge back row of Eanna Burke, Max Small and captain Mark O Connor. However on any given opportunity either through set play or at a turnover, this Newbridge side showed the quality of its backline and moved the ball with great intent. Indeed had they received more ball they would have caused all sorts of trouble to Wesley.
Newbridge began the game with plenty of enterprise moving the ball right to left and bringing flying winger Carr in at any opportunity and were rewarded with a fine try by Eanna Burke. However failure to clear their line on the restart, led to an early turnover for Wesley and with the aid of its strong pack, drove over for a converted try. Newbridge responded in typical style when after 15 minutes, inside-centre Ronan Skehan pushed a penalty against the upright. However the rebound was poorly dealt with by Wesley and powerful outside-centre John Higgins pounced and released to supporting number 10 Sam Sutton to touchdown for an excellent try. Skehan was unlucky with the conversion. Again the Wesley pack dominated the forward exchanges and drove deep into the Newbridge half and again scored near the posts after excellent work by their pack. Newbridge responded immediately and after good work by the elusive running of right winger Niall O Brien, Newbridge were awarded a penalty inside the 22 which Skehan easily converted.
After the break Newbridge created the best score of the match. On the Wesley 10 meter line, the Newbridge pack supplied quality fast ball from a line-out and after a clever series of switches in midfield fed Diarmuid Carr on the left wing who, showed superb strength and speed to round the entire defence and score under the post. Wesley however were far from dead and buried and again their pack forced their way up field and after a sustained period of pressure scored from an attacking scrum. The conversion left Newbridge one point adrift and 15 minutes to play. This was the best period of the match with both sides playing superb rugby and when Wesley scored again leaving the score 26 -20, all seemed lost in the Newbridge Camp. But after some rousing words behind the posts by the Newbridge Coach, the response was immediate and again some excellent approach work by the midfield players allowed Man of the Match full back Johnny Gray to score an excellent try 4 minutes from the finish. However pressure on Ronan Skehan did not yield the desired resultant conversion and Newbridge had it all to do. However this team is full of character and they kept pounding the Wesley line in the dying moments only to be denied each time. Just as the game was about to finish, the unfortunate Wesley scrum half was adjudged to have deliberately knocked on the ball and Newbridge were awarded a penalty. You could hear a pin drop as Ronan Skehan strepped up to kick this highly pressurized and difficult kick. And yes true to form he drove the ball straight and through the uprights, to secure a win by 28 points to 26, much to the delight of the supporters. An excellent day for Newbridge and a victory they fully deserved. You can be sure they cannot wait for the visit of Templeogue College next Wednesday at 3 o’clock in the College.