PORTLAOISE U/14s headed to Enniscorthy on Saturday last for a lunchtime kick- off in the first round of the cup. The visitors dealt well with the blustery conditions to run out comfortable winners at the final whistle.
Enniscorthy RFC 5
Leinster Rugby U/14 Cup
Despite playing into a strong breeze, Portlaoise got off to great start. They dominated the early exchanges up front and outside centre Daniel Whelan used his pace to beat the defence and score in the left corner.
The back row had a strong hand in the next two scores. Open-side Donnchadh Carroll and No. 8 Eanna Moynihan made strong gains and a lovely off-load to Whelan put him in again for his second try. The points were added for a 12-0 lead.
Shortly after, Cormac Drea, operating at blind-side, linked up well with Carroll who fed it out the back to captain Moynihan to drive over and make it 17-0. Midway through the half, the dominance of the Portlaoise pack told once more.
After strong counter-rucking by Joey McGuinness and Conor Deegan, loose-head Fionn Mullen made a great run only to be tackled into touch at the five-metre line. Despite Enniscorthy securing the ball from the line-out, Portlaoise drove the home side back over their line and Cormac Drea was on hand to touch down for a 22-0 lead.
This brought a reaction from the home side and, after a spell of territory and possession, they scored in the left corner to make it 22-5.
However, the respite didn’t last long. Portlaoise secured possession from the re- start and wing Dara Coffey made a great run before being tackled into touch inside the 22. Second-row Shane Foley claimed the line-out and drove forward.
Then scrum-half Kyle Moore got the backs motoring with great carries from inside centre Aaron Fitzpatrick and wing Cillian Dunne, who was halted just short of the line. As ever, Carroll was first to the scene to pick and go from the ruck and crash over in the corner to make it 27-5 at half-time.
Portlaoise started the second half where they left off with two quick tries. First, full- back Eoghan Kennedy came into the line to good effect and put out-half Matt Cunningham through to score and, shortly after, from yet another turnover, Carroll and Cunningham combined to put in Cormac Page and push the lead out to 37-5.
The home side pressed hard but were finding the going tough. Bill Rigney was as composed as ever in the second row, taking all advice on offer from the manager on how to deal with the difficult conditions. Ricky Lyons and David Alley came into the front row and continued the strong work at the ruck.
Declan Iguma was strong in defence and attack when introduced at centre and Paul Byrne kept up the pace of attack from scrum-half. A piece of individual skill added to the Portlaoise total. Cunningham chipped over the defensive line and was first on hand to gather the ball and sprint clear to score under the posts.
He added the points to make it 44-5. In the final minutes, the away side crossed the white-wash once more. Great work from Moynihan and Carroll put Dan Murrell on the move and there was no
stopping him as he scored his first try for the team, much to the delight of his team mates.
Portlaoise return to league action next weekend when they welcome Tullow to Togher for the quarter-final.
PORTLAOISE: Eoghan Kennedy, Dara Coffey, Daniel Whelan, Aaron Fitzpatrick, Cillian Dunne, Matt Cunningham, Kyle Moore, Joey McGuinness, Conor Deegan, Fionn Mullen, Shane Foley, Bill Rigney, Cormac Drea, Donnchadh Carroll, Eanna Moynihan. Replacements: Rick Lyons, David Alley, Declan Iguma, Dan Murrell, Cormac Page, Paul Byrne.
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