WICKLOW continued their rich vein of form with a barnstorming second half display against a disheartened Co Carlow side at Ashtown Lane on Sunday.
Carlow have had a difficult start to the season but had been showing improvement in recent games. Wicklow were expecting a tough battle on a cold damp day with a strong breeze that favoured Carlow in the first half.
Wicklow started well and despite playing into the wind established a firm foothold in Carlow territory. The first 20 minutes were nip and tuck as both teams struggled to find any rhythm in a stop start affair.
Wicklow were first on the score sheet with a well taken try by Ken Copeland. A superb kick from Ben Porter into the wind from the touchline came off the crossbar but Wicklow lead 5-0 after 20 minutes.
The remainder of the first half was a stop start affair. Carlow's pack were competing well but they were unable to exert any real pressure on the Wicklow line. Wicklow were almost over for a second try just on the stroke of halftime but the ball was knocked on and Carlow cleared it to safety.
In the second half Wicklow had the benefit of a strong wind. They used it to good effect with Mark Higgins, Ben Porter and full back Ronan Hurley all using the boot to establish a foothold in Carlow territory.
Early in the second period a Carlow infringement on the halfway line gave Ben Porter a 50m penalty opportunity. With the wind behind him distance was never going to be an issue. He struck it perfectly and the ball sailed between the posts. Wicklow lead 8-0. Ten minutes later Porter was on target with an easier effort that extended Wicklow lead to 11 - 0 with 25 minutes to go.
Wicklow had several try scoring opportunities at this point but a lack of accuracy saw them cough up several gilt edged chances. With 20 minutes to go a Carlow lineout on their own line was stolen by Barry Hurley who crashed over to score a try against his former club. The conversion from Porter made it 18-0. You could see the Carlow heads drop a little.
Wicklow upped the pace and continued to move the ball wide at every opportunity but crucially they used the wind to establish field position first. With 15 minutes to go Timmy Donovan burst through to score a well taken try that was set up by a clever reverse pass from the excellent Denis Higgins. Porter's conversion made it 25-0 with 10 minutes to go.
Wicklow were in complete control now and the much sought after bonus point try came five minutes from time when Ben Porter who had an outstanding game crashed over to score. The missed conversion left the score at 30-0. Deep in injury time Wicklow's fifth try came courtesy of prop Timmy Donovan who showed off some fine footwork to evade two defenders and score in the corner.
Wicklow were pleased with the performance and delighted with the result that moves them into a clear third place two points behind Monkstown. Next Sunday is a season defining game as they travel to face Monkstown away from home.
A loss here would see them six points adrift from second place and a potential playoff spot. A win would put them into clear second place with Monkstown still to travel to Ashtown Lane in the New Year
Kick off for the seconds is at 1pm with the firsts at 2.30pm
Team: Paddy Jameson, Jason Byrne , Timmy O'Donovan, Noel Greene, Niall Smullen, Stephen Roberts, Michael Doyle, Barry Hurley, Denis Higgins, Mark Higgins,Ben Porter, Ken Copeland, Fran Cooney, Ben Mangan, Ronan Hurley Subs, Stuart Donohoe, Simon Norton, Ronan Monahan, David Acres, Leslie Copeland