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Firsts into Provincial Towns Cup Final

Wicklow 1st XV 16     Clondalkin 1st XV 13

WRFC first team created their own piece of history on Sunday when a dramatic last minute try gave them an incredible win over a gallant Clondalkin side in Co Carlow RFC to secure a place in the Provincial Towns Cup final for only the second time in the clubs history. Wicklow had beaten Longford, Ashbourne and Roscrea to get to the semi finals. They had also beaten Clondalkin in the recent play off for promotion/relegation. In some ways that victory probably made Captain Wes Wojnars men slight favourites on paper going in to this crucial game. This was always going to be different.

The game was played on wet afternoon on a pitch that was barely playable. There was water lying on the pitch in some sections and as the game wore on the surface turned into a mud bath. The conditions suited Clondalkins bigger and more powerful pack while the lighter and more mobile Wicklow unit would have preferred a dry day.

Despite the conditions both sides served up a memorable game that was full of bravery, determination, skill and even a dramatic finish.

Clondalkin played with the advantage of the diagonal breeze in the first half. The fired up Dublin side got off to the best start possible when a mix up in the Wicklow mid field defence and a powerful fend by the centre Matt Stapleton saw him cut through and score  close to the posts. The conversion from Chris Jebb made it 7 – 0 to Clondalkin after two minutes.

Wicklow were shell shocked but didn’t panic. They have been behind before on plenty of occasions this season and come back to win. They set about their task with steely determination and soon had Clondalkin under some pressure. The conditions were making  it difficult to play but Wicklow were determined to move the ball when they could. A penalty attempt by Niall Earls slipped narrowly wide and Wicklow failed to score on a number of visits to the Clondalkin 22 early in the first half.

In the twenty fifth minute a penalty gave Wicklow a lineout deep in opposition territory. From the resultant driving maul came a series of pick and drives. Eventually Liam Gaffney drove over and appeared to score. The referee was unsighted but the touch judge had a clear view of the grounding and the try was awarded. The conversion was missed but Wicklow had closed the gap to 5 – 7.

The rain was absolutely spilling down at this stage  and the pitch conditions got worse and worse. The ball was like a bar of soap and possession was a complete liability. Both teams tried to hold onto posession but the ferocity of the tackling was such that the ball was spilled time and time again.

In the 35th minute Niall Earls was on target again with a tricky penalty from 30 metres out to give Wicklow the lead for the first time at 8 – 7. This was to be a very short lived lead. A penalty to Clondalkin soon after the restart was slotted by Chis Jebb and the Dublinners led by 10 – 8. Approaching the break Wicklow forced another penalty but Earls attempt went narrowly wide. Another let off for Clondalkin. The half time whistle went and Wicklow trailed 10 – 8.

Early in the second half another Earls penalty from 30 metres out, put Wicklow back in front by 11 – 10. Again straight from the restart Wicklow conceded again. The unerring Jebb made no mistake and put Clondalkin into the lead 11 – 13 with half an hour to go.

The rain continued to fall and the pitch got worse and worse. The players were all completely covered in mud and were virtually indistinguishable from each other. The ball was impossible to control and the game descended into a series of scrums, mauls, pick and drives and eye watering hits.

Wicklow were finding it hard to get deep into opposition territory.  When they did the superb Clondalkin defence forced the knock on time and time again. For half an hour Wicklow battered away without reward. 

As the clock wound down into injury time the referee awarded Wicklow a scrum five metres out under the Clondalkin posts. Surely this was it! Surely they would try for a drop goal? The decision was made to go for the try and Wes Wojnar drove for the line. The ball was recycled on a couple of occasions before another bruising tackle from Clondalkin knocked the ball loose for the umpteenth time and they cleared upfield. The referee indicated that there were six minutes of injury time remaining.

Wicklow continued to attack. In the ninth minute of injury time a driving maul from Wicklow surged towards the try line. The huge Wicklow support roared them on. Three metres out the maul was collapsed. Wicklow had an overlap on the left. Dennis Higgins passed to John Jenkinson who popped it to Captain Wes Wojnar. Wojnar dived for the line as two defenders hit him hard. He went over the line and grounded the ball before being smashed into touch. It was close but it was good. The linesman who was in perfect position confirmed the grounding and the try was awarded. The place erupted. Wicklow were in front 16 – 13 with two and a half minutes of injury time remaining! Earls conversion hit the post.

Wicklow ground out the last couple of nailbiting minutes and eventually after an interminable second half, the final whistle went. There were fantastic scenes of celebration as Wicklows place in the Provincial Towns Cup final was confirmed for the second time in the clubs long history. Clondalkin were heartbroken having led for 90 of the 95 minutes played. It was a cruel exit for a team that had given it everything but left with nothing.

To Wicklows credit they never panicked and not for a second did they let their heads drop. Relentlessly and ruthlessly they went after the score they so desperately wanted. On a day for ten man rugby Wicklows young pack were superb on the day. The back row of Doyle, Gaffney and Wojnar were truly outstanding. The backs defended brilliantly and the half backs Dennis Higgins and Niall Earls performed miracles given the conditions. So Wicklows exciting season marches on. The Provincial Towns Cup final will take place in Ashbourne RFC probably on Sunday May 1st. (The date is to be confirmed) What a day that promises to be for this exciting young team, for the club and for Wicklow.

 

WRFC - Calendars

  • Kilkenny RFC v Wicklow RFC J2 Leinster Leageu 1A (22-Sep-2018)
  • Kilkenny RFC v Wicklow RFC J1 Leinster League 1A (22-Sep-2018)
  • Wicklow Senior Women v Edenderry Senior Women - Leinster League (23-Sep-2018)
  • Dundalk RFC v Wicklow RFC J2 Leinster League 1A (29-Sep-2018)
  • Dundalk RFC v Wicklow RFC J1 - Leinster League - 1A (29-Sep-2018)
  • Wicklow RFC v Boyne RFC -J2 Leinster League - 1A (13-Oct-2018)
  • Wicklow RFC v Boyne RFC - J1 Leinster League - 1A (13-Oct-2018)
  • Garda Senior Women v Wicklow Senior Women - Leinster League - Di (14-Oct-2018)
  • Ashbourne RFC v Wicklow RFC - J2 Leinster League - 1A (20-Oct-2018)
  • Ashbourne RFC v Wicklow RFC - J1 Leinster League - 1A (20-Oct-2018)
Show more...


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