Hopkins on fire in fine Wicklow win
Leinster League: Wicklow RFC 25 DSLP 15
Wicklow's first team got back to winning ways with a hard fought win over a determined DLSP FC side at Ashtown lane on Saturday.
Having lost narrowly to the Dublinners in the opening game of the season, John Jenkinson's men were determined to get things back on track. Having been dragged into a bit of a dogfight at the lower end of the table, it was essential that they do so.
The game was played in front of a healthy crowd, in dry but bitterly cold conditions. A bitter crosswind aided DLSP in the first half.
Wicklow started with determination and got over for an early try from flying winger Dean Leonard. The difficult conversion was missed but Wicklow led 5-0 in the opening minutes.
DLSP responded with a penalty after a brief spell of pressure to make it 5-3.
On the 20-minute mark, Wicklow scored a superb team try that was finished off by the captain John Jenkinson. Brian Keegans conversion made it 12-3 midway through the first half.
Wicklow appeared to be well on top but conceded a try late in the first half and they turned around at half time with a 12-10 lead.
With the wind at their backs Wicklow began to pin DLSP into their own 22.
The pressure told when a lineout five metres out was driven over and touched down by Jack McKenna. The excellent conversion from Brian Keegan made it 19 - 10 with twenty five minutes on the clock.
Wicklow appeared to be well in control and DLSP were struggling to get out of their own half and to pose any real threat. Keegan added another good penalty with 15 minutes left to make it 22-10.
True to form Wicklow made it an exciting finish when a defensive lapse allowed the flying DLSP winger to score in the corner from inside his own half. The conversion was missed but it was a one score game at 22-15.
Credit to Wicklow, they set about closing out the game with real purpose.
DLSP were pinned into their own half. A powerful scrum drove the Dublinners off their own ball and a penalty was awarded to Wicklow accompanied by a huge roar from the home supporters. As Keegan made his run up, the ball fell off the kicking tee and the kick scudded harmlessly along the ground before being cleared to safety.
Wicklow pushed for the security of one more score. A drop goal from Stephen Duffy came back off the posts and was cleared to safety.
Eventually, deep in injury time, another penalty to Wicklow. Keegan made no mistake and drilled the ball over the bar. 25-15 to Wicklow.
The final whistle went soon afterwards and the points were in the bag. Best for Wicklow on the day was the outstanding Jonathan Hopkins who put in a barnstorming and brave performance putting his body on the line time and time again.
The young wing forward has been an absolute revelation this season and gets better with every game.
This was another improved performance from Wicklow. The indiscipline that was a feature in some of their earlier games has been ironed out and the team is showing some glimpses of real promise.
The win lifted Wicklow above Gorey in the league standings.
They make the short trip up to Monkstown FC on Saturday next. Monkstown are firmly rooted to the bottom of the table and know that this weekends game is effectively the last chance saloon for them.
They put in a solid performance away to Boyne on Saturday and will throw the actual kitchen sink at Wicklow next weekend. John Jenkinsons men will need to be firing on all cylinders to come away with the win. Kick off is at the earlier time of 2pm.
With injuries mounting up for the first XV the Seconds XV have been badly hit. They faced a tough DLSP side in Wicklow on Saturday and were well beaten on the day. The team travel to Monkstown on Saturday with kick off at 12.30pm
Second XV: Stephen Swan, Daniel Higgins, Shane Du Moulin, Simon Norton, Niall Higgins, Liam Hughes, Lorcan Smullen, John Kearney, Shane Byrne, Ross O'Toole, Ben Armstrong, Russell Andrew, Neil Kearney. Tim Spencer, Allen Byrne, Mark Cullen, Shane Cullen, Ronan Monahan, Darren Byrne.
First XV: Eanna Killeen, Jack McKenna, Neil Dickenson, John Jenkinson, George Naoupu, Liam Gaffney, Jonathan Hopkins, Wes Wojnar, Billy Ngawini, Brian Keegan, Dean Leonard, Ben Porter, Simon Breen, Shane Farrar, Stephen Duffy, Subs Jason Byrne, Stephen Swan, Ben Armstrong, Eoin O'Sullivan.