Portarlington hosted league leaders Ashbourne in Round 9 of the Leinster League last weekend and provided a stiff test for the Meath outfit who remain unbeaten going into the winter break.
With the advantage of a strong breeze, Port dominated the early exchanges but missed opportunities from the kicking tee which meant that the game remained scoreless after 25 minutes. The home side continued to work hard in possession but they finally made the breakthrough thanks to aggressive defensive line speed which allowed back row player Mark Petriu to pick off a perfectly timed interception. The South African native then powered through the Ashbourne defence, swatting off a couple of would be tacklers before finishing in the corner to give Port a well deserved 5-0 lead.
Ashbourne always looked dangerous in possession but the home side were impressive in defence and eager at the breakdown. The visitors didn’t allow themselves to get frustrated and their patience paid off when they finally managed to work their way into Port’s 22 and score in the corner just before the break.
The league leaders made the most of the wind assistance in the second half and they were ahead in possession and territory when they scored their second try on 50 minutes.
Portarlington continued to defend with discipline and unity as they soaked up further pressure but on 67 minutes Ashbourne turned pressure into further points as they crossed the line to score a well taken try in the corner and with the score at 5-17 there was daylight between the sides for the first time.
The travelling supporters will have felt confident of going on to earn a try bonus point as they seemed to have more strength on their bench than their hosts but Port stuck to the task and seemed determined to secure at least a losing bonus. They made countless tackles before vetthey broke away and set up James Hyland to score a try which Chris Ryan converted brilliantly from wide out three minutes remaining.
Neither side managed to create any chances in the closing minutes but both teams will be satisfied going into the mid season break with Ashbourne maintaining their 100% season and Port defying injury problems as they look on course to maintain their Division 1 status.