Sunday 21 July 2019

Derby tie secured

Rugby: Wanderers 22 Dundalk 15

Cillian McConville and Ciarán Byrne of Wexford Wanderers tackling a Dundalk opponent
Cillian McConville and Ciarán Byrne of Wexford Wanderers tackling a Dundalk opponent

The Wexford Wanderers second XV hosted Division 1A side Dundalk at Park Lane on Sunday in the opening round of the Seconds Provincial Towns Cup.

After a season of mixed fortunes and following a poor start in the league, Wanderers have cemented second place in the league behind Clondalkin.

However, Sunday's clash was an altogether different prospect, with little known about the visitors other than that they are lodged in the bottom half of the Division 1A league.

The game started well with both sides not yielding any quarter, and early on the referee was quick to speak to both captains to establish discipline.

This seemed to work as the contest remained very cleanly-fought for the rest of the afternoon.

Wanderers seemed to be marginally better in the general exchanges, and after ten minutes number 8 Kevin Redmond crossed the line for the opening score, with centre Richie Waters adding the points.

However, five minutes later Dundalk scored an unconverted try to reduce the difference.

The next score came on the half hour mark when flying winger Cormac Burke out-flanked the Dundalk back line to score on the left, with Waters again adding the points.

Dundalk at this stage started to panic a bit and tried without success to get back into the encounter, with their best chance coming in the form of a penalty which came back off the posts.

However, they were unable to score before the interval which saw Wanderers leading by 14-5.

Wanderers rang the changes at the interval, with James Byrne, Stafford and Toomey being sprung from the bench to reinvigorate the side.

Early in the second period the dependable Waters extended the lead with a long-range penalty from the right.

Just minutes later, after a sloppy clearance, Waters made a brilliant solo run from Wanderers' '22 and scored in the corner to give Wexford a 22-5 lead with half an hour remaining.

Dundalk, however, kept the pressure on and pulled a try back with 20 minutes left.

At this stage Wanderers were under intense pressure and winger Tom Barry had to leave the field with a broken nose to be replaced by Richards, while Birney came on for the flawless Ryan.

For the remainder of the game Dundalk kept Wanderers pinned back in their '22 and were rewarded on the full-time whistle with another unconverted try to narrow the final score to 22-15.

It was a memorable win for Wanderers against a highly-rated visiting side.

The result means that Wanderers now have a derby tie in the next round as they travel to neighbours Enniscorthy, who put 61 points without reply on Clane.

The fixture is scheduled at this stage for Saturday, February 23, in Enniscorthy due to the international fixture on the Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Wanderers first XV have to return the trip to Dundalk next Sunday, February 10, in the second round of the Provincial Towns Cup when the most south-easterly side in the province again faces the most north-easterly side.

Without doubt, after Sunday's loss, the Louthmen will hope to exact some retribution on Wanderers in what should be another epic encounter.

Wexford: Ross O'Callaghan, Barry Ryan, Chris Vickery, Zygimantas Sniezka, Ciarán Byrne, Vincent Carroll, Cillian McConville (capt.), Kevin Redmond, Mark Power, Paul Gannon, Cormac Burke, Ciarán Joyce, Richie Waters, Tom Barry, John Gannon. Subs. - Noel Richards, Pat Toomey, James Byrne, Seán Stafford, Kevin Birney.

Gorey Guardian