Last Saturday Portlaoise faced Mullingar in the first game of 2013 away. Portlaoise’s last league game had ended in a bitter disappointment when they were narrowly beaten by a strong Wicklow side. It was clear from kick off Portlaoise were eager to get back to winning ways.
It started with good work from the backs that let Luke Rigney find space on the wing and when William Seale’s well timed pass came there was no way Mullingar could keep Luke out. Minutes later Portlaoise scored again when Evan Browne chased down PJ Daly’s long kick. Mullingar’s full back managed to catch the ball but spilled it when tackled by Evan who collected the loose ball and scored. PJ Daly extended Portlaoise’s lead by converting the try.
Great team work made Portlaoise’s third try, brilliant work started again by the in-form William Seale, his offload to Luke Rigney let the impressive number 8 barge through the Mullingar defence to make it 17-0
The second half saw Mullingar rally but Portlaoise showed that they are capable of defending as well as scoring tries. Great discipline and commitment from the forwards kept Mullingar from getting back into the game. Ferocious tackling from Stephen Hunt, Dan O’Rourke, Shane Buggy and James Phelan limited Mullingar to one try after a long spell of pressure.
Mullingar’s try was just the kick start Portlaoise needed to remind them this game wasn’t won yet. A menacing run from Evan Browne opened gaps in the Mullingar defence and eventually, when Mullingar managed to close him down, his off load allowed Craig Adams to get over for an easy try which PJ Daly converted.
Portlaoise made some changes midway through the second half and subs Luke Kerr and Dylan Kavanagh made a huge impact. Luke Kerr playing at scrum half was impressive with quick and clever passing. Dylan Kavanagh’s speed on the wing caused Mullingar problems and Dylan was rewarded with a try before the game finished 29-5.
This was a very good all round team performance which will no doubt will stand to Portlaoise with some tough games coming up. Portlaoise will play Tullow next week in a friendly before the Leinster Premier League will resume the week after.
Portlaoise: David Maher, Stephen Hunt, James Phelan, Conor Handcock, Shane Buggy, Daniel O’Rourke, Fionn Whelan, Luke Rigney (2 tries), Michael Dowling, Evan Browne (1 try), P.J. Daly (2 conversions), William Seale, Craig Adams (1 try), Dean Brophy, Cormac Rigney. Replacements: Dylan Kavanagh (1 try), Luke Kerr, Buddy Adlam, Conor Dwyer, Jack Kennedy, Jamie O’ Callaghan