Provincial Towns Cup
By Harry Shorthose
THE 2017 champions of the Towns Cup crashed out in the second round on Sunday in front of a home crowd at Black Gates.
Maurice Logue’s men look set to end the season empty handed after Wicklow took the spoils in a hard-fought game. It was an even game for the majority of the 80 minutes with the two teams largely cancelling each other out for long periods.
Wicklow went over for the first try of the game five minutes in. There was some good work from the start from the visitors as they played the phases, kept the ball and waited for an opening. They recycled the ball to the wing where flanker Luke Gersekowski went through for the opening score of the game. They couldn’t convert.
Ten minutes in, Wicklow allowed Tullow a way back into the game as they conceded a penalty right in front of the posts. William Canavan made no mistake despite the wind. They went ahead three minutes later as Wicklow conceded yet another penalty, this time from 40 metres out. Canavan again stepped up from distance and converted with ease.
Midway through the half, Tullow were awarded another penalty 20 metres out. Canavan again stepped up and made no mistake in slotting it between the uprights. Four minutes later, Tullow knocked the ball on near their try line, giving away a five-metre scrum. Wicklow won the scrum but conceded another penalty as they were found offside. An easy kick from 10 metres out was once again sent over by Canavan.
Wicklow seemed to wake up after this and kept pressing. On the half-hour mark, they responded with their second try of the game. Tullow knocked the ball on near the Wicklow line conceding a five-metre scrum in the process.
Wicklow won the scrum and forced the ball out to the wing where there were two-men waiting, having forced Tullow into the middle. Their outside centre Billy Ngawini went over. The conversion was missed from a tough angle.
On the stroke of half-time, they got a third try to retake the lead. They played the phases and drove the ball up field to find space out on the wing where Ben Porter went over. They again missed the conversion.
Things went from bad to worse just after the hour mark when a five-metre scrum was won by the visitors and they drove the ball over the line. The conversion was missed. With 12 minutes to go, Niall Earls found space in the middle to convert a drop goal.
It looked like a long way back for Tullow but they didn’t give up and with five minutes to go, they won a penalty from a scrum and kicked for a lineout. Stephen Smith found space behind the defence to touch down. Canavan converted to leave them needing a try to win.
Shortly after, Wicklow won a penalty and it was sent over by Earls to leave the hosts needing a converted try.
In the last minute, a driving maul from a lineout saw Smith go down in the right corner. It was all down to Canavan from the touchline to bring things level and on a calmer day, he may well have done so.
But with the wind blowing hard, he could not find that little bit extra to get it between the sticks.
Tullow: Paul Stephenson, Phillip Deane, William ‘Cas’ O’Brien, Keiaho Bloomfield, Ryan O’Neill, William Canavan, Dylan Leybourne; Scott Caldbeck, Sam Corrigan, Tom Cashen, John Hanbidge, James O’Brien, Stephen Smith. Subs: Louis Kilcoyne, Jordan Leybourne, Jack McDonald, Shane Rohan, Sean Doyle.