While our Irish National Rugby team kicked off their campaign in Yokohama city in a rain soaked encounter, Portlaoise Rugby played host to Mullingar in Togher on Sunday in equally poor weather.
Leinster League Division 2A
*Browse through the photo gallery by Denis Byrne using the arrows in the top right-hand corner of the main photo above
The rain was incessant and ultimately proved to be detrimental to Portlaoise’s ambition of starting the league campaign with a home victory.
Portlaoise had comprehensively beaten Mullinagar both home and away last season so hopes were high for a victory in Togher on Sunday morning. It was clear that Portlaoise had been working pre-season on an expansive game and were eager to move the ball quickly.
On review, management would have changed tactics earlier as the first-half stats will show that they conceded seven scrums because of handling errors and numerous penalties.
One of those penalties resulted in Mullingar having a three-point lead after seven minutes and a maul directly after a scrum resulted in another score with the clock showing just fourteen minutes of play.
Portlaoise were shell-shocked and were not quick enough to realise that they were in a dog fight on their own patch.
Keen tackling by Mullingar's Number 8 and clever tactical play by their fly-half would hold Portlaoise scoreless at the break.
In the second half, it was quite clear to see that Portlaoise had upped the tempo and were the better team for the first twenty minutes.
The coaching team’s tactical realignment of the back line seemed to be bearing fruit. With the wind in their favor hopes were high for a revival and indeed were rewarded with some good attacking lineouts in Mullingar territory.
Unfortunately, the home team could not convert that territory to points with a number of line outs being lost poorly.
In fairness to the home team they never relented in their pursuit to cross the whitewash and were awarded with a hard-earned try with ten minutes left on the clock. Mullingar scored another penalty to leave the score 5 – 11 in the visitors favor.
On a dreary dark day in Togher, Portlaoise Rugby can take some comfort from a stellar performance from rising star and the youngest man in the squad Paddy Coss.
Not once did he fail to make the gain line, it was inspirational. While it would be challenging to pick out a singular “Man of the Match” much credit must go to Jamie Hoolahan who fielded very well and made some decent yardage in atrocious conditions.
Team: Paddy Coss, Harry Lalor, Eanna Delaney, Diarmuid Joyce, Paudie Bourke, Mark Sherlock, Kevin Griffen, Robin Foot, Jack Reddin, Darragh McAuley, Hayden Lawlor, Cormac Doyle, Ian Corrigan, Gavin Thompson, Jamie Hoolahan.
Subs: Shane Reilly for Eanna Delaney, Brian Flannery for Paddy Coss, Armand Smit for Hayden Lawlor, Louafi Mohamed Ryad for Ian Corrigan.