TULLOW'S Provincial Towns Cup campaign opened with an impressive performance from the Slaneysiders in Rathdrum, County Wicklow.
The visitors managed to beat the home team 38-0, not giving them a chance to put a score on the board.
The referee barely had time to turn around, before the visitors had made their way into Rathdrum's half, with Frank Murphy touching down for a try after less than two minutes. Murphy sailed over the line, right by the posts leaving for an easy conversion for Tullow's William Canavan.
This early move from the hands of Andrew Turner, Alan Deering and Frank Murphy set the mantra for the game; good tries from Tullow in excellent positions leaving the majority of conversions easy for Canavan.
After eight minutes, Tullow had scored their second try. A Canavan ball came from the back of a scrum to John Hanbidge who went over the line right at the posts. Canavan again converted bringing the score to 14-0.
What was starting out as a cool crisp day, great weather for rugby, quickly changed, with the rain slowing the game down at the 10th minute.
Frank Murphy scored his second try of the day after the 24th minute. A lineout in the home side's favour was stolen by Sean McCarthy. After three phases, Murphy went under the post for a try. Canavan kicked this conversion bringing the visitors to a storming lead of 21-0, just a quarter of the way into the game.
Tullow's pack was up to scratch on the day, with some excellent scrummaging. After 33mins, Tullow turned over a Rathdrum scum. John Fitzgerald stole the ball from the scrum, and a move to John Hanbidge saw him bring the ball safely over the line for Tullow's fourth try. Canavan had a tough conversion against the wind, which he unfortunately missed.
The visitors made some changes in the second half, with Paul 'Pookie' Canavan replacing Darren Dunne. Cillian Murphy temporarily came on for Murphy, who made a return to pitch around the 65th minute. After the 50th minute, the front row seen a huge change, with Joe O'Connor replacing Sam Corrigan and Scott Caldbeck replaced Alan Burns.
Andrew Turner put in a massive run in the 70th minute to get Tullow's fifth try. A high kick from Rathdrum's fullback, Rob Winterbottom, sent the ball sailing into Tullow's 22, where it was grabbed by Aaron Daly.
Daly passed it to Roche, who then made a move to Turner. Speed and fancy footwork seen Turner go over the line, running almost half the length of the field, leaving the home side trailing behind him. Canavan converted bringing the score to 33-0.
William Canavan scored the final try of the game almost at the last minute. He went over the line in the corner. This brought the score to 38-0, a massive opening win in the cup campaign for the visitors.
Tullow put in a huge performance in the first half, in the wet weather conditions, against the wind. The second half was expected to be easier, with the wind in their favour.
However, Rathdrum came back fighting in the second half. A massive effort from the home side saw some exciting action along their five yard line. However, Tullow put in a massive defense, leaving them without a score on the board.
The Slaneysiders made their debut in the final in 2007 against Navan, and again last year against Enniscorthy.
Although, they have yet failed to bring the cup back to the Blackgates Tullow's coach, Massey Tuhaks is confident that this could be their year at last.
Tuhaks was modest, and said he was 'happy' with today's win. He added that 'it was a good opportunity to give lads from the second's team a run'. Going forward, he is excited. 'We have no real injury concerns at the moment. We've set high standards for ourselves, so it's a matter of keeping it that way'.
Tullow have been drawn to meet neighboring Kilkenny in the second round of the cup on February 17, at the Blackgates. Tuhaks is 'excited about meeting Kilkenny as this game will define whether or not we are top contenders'.
Tullow: A. Burns, S. Corrigan, L. Kilcoyne, F. Murphy, N. Keane, S. Smith, J. Roche, J. Hanbidge, A. Daly, W. Canavan, S.McCarthy, A. Deering, A. Turner, D. Dunne, W. O'Brien. Rep: J. Fitzgerald for Smith (15mins), P. Canavan for D. Dunne (HT), F. Murphy for C. Murphy (HT), J. O'Connor for S. Corrigan (50mins), S. Caldbeck for A. Burns (50mins).