New Ross maintain title challenge with vital win
NEW ROSS took on Edenderry in the Leinster League Division 2B. The match was vital to both sides.
The home side needed the win to maintain their title challenge and Edenderry needed to pull themselves back into contention. New Ross started the stronger and with the help of a couple of strong runs by Rory Hannon, they kept themselves on the front foot for the first 20 minutes.
Playing with the help of a strong wind, the home side kept the visitors penned back and on eight minutes, a penalty was awarded to New Ross just inside the opposition half. Gavin Mernagh stepped up to slot the kick for a three-point lead.
Four minutes later, Mernagh kicked another penalty, this time from in front of the posts after the pack had put their opposition under pressure at a scrum.
Edenderry introduced an early replacement to try to address their problems at scrum time and this seemed to give them the spark they needed. The away side began to play a bit of rugby and for the rest of the half, they posed a lot of problems.
But with excellent first-time tackling, New Ross proved they could defend as well as attack. From a spell of strong pressure on the home side, after turning down a few opportunities for a kick at goal, Edenderry scored a snap drop goal to reduce the margin to three points, to leave the half-time score 6-3 in favour of the home side.
New Ross now had to turn around and play into the strong wind and inevitably had to change their tactics. A feature of the first-half was the strong scrummaging of Ross against physically larger opponents.
The home side started the second-half nervously and made a couple of mistakes but were lucky to escape without conceding a score. From their first visit into the Edenderry half, they were awarded a penalty. It was fully 40 metres from the posts into a very strong wind.
Up stepped Robbie Vallejo to convert the kick which cleared the crossbar by some distance. What a kick! This proved to be a very important point of the match, giving New Ross a little bit of breathing space.
The forwards continued their dominance of the scrum and were now beginning to wear down the opposition. Midway through the half, the home side camped on the opposition line and, after a couple of near misses, swung the ball out to the backs for Kevin Burke to hit the line at pace, breaking a few tackles and scoring a great try.
Gavin Mernagh added the conversion for a 16-3 lead. This seemed to knock the wind out of Edenderry and, although they never gave up, New Ross were able to see the rest of the game out.
Exceptional performances came from Robbie Vallejo, Rory Hannon, Gavin Mernagh and James 'Tank' Ryan which earned him the man of the match award.