Despite trailing by nine points at half-time, Portarlington came storming back in the second-half to seure their place in Round 2 of the Provincial Towns Plate.
Having taken Tullow to extra time in the Towns Cup, North Kildare will have come into this tie with a degree of confidence and a fast start only added to that as they crossed for a converted try after only two minutes.
However the experienced Portarlington side didn’t allow this to phase them as they stuck to their game plan and pilled pressure on the home side’s defence leading to a yellow card for persistent offences at the breakdown.
The Kildare side soaked up constant pressure but when Port’ won a scrum against the head after 19 minutes No 8 Mark Petriu powered over for a well deserved score.
The momentum swung again when North Kildare took a quick penalty on their opponent’s 22 and put the ball through hands to take advantage of an overlap out wide and the score was 14-5 at half time.
The home side extended their lead with a well struck penalty on 45 minutes and a shock seemed on the cards but then a 20 minute of powerful accurate phase play and line breaks from Portarlington saw the game swing in their favour.
Centre Ross Doyle struck twice taking the score to 17-15 and then on 60 minutes Diarmuid Kennedy scored after Doyle and Ronan Mannion combined off a Joander Brazon lineout take, Kieran Hyland converted and the Laois side led for the first time. The period of dominance was polished off when the impressive Philip Dowling finished off a maul that North Kildare struggled to contain. Hyland again added the extras and the score was 17-29 to the visitors.
North Kildare scored again after an impressive line break to set up a nervous end to the game but ultimately a combination of handling errors when in strong positions cost them dearly.
A dominant Portarlington pack made better use of their possession than their hosts and the class of Doyle’s finishing added to strong ball carrying from Mark Petriu, Cathal Bannon, Joander Brazon, Philip Dowling and Diarmuid Kennedy gave them this much needed victory.
Coach Johan Taylor pointed that period of dominance during the second half as the difference on the day saying, “both sides made errors but we took enough during that 20 minutes to get the job done.”