Laois Rugby Corner
Laois Rugby Corner
Portlaoise RFC 22
Newbridge RFC 15
Portlaoise are a Division 1 team. Sunday afternoon saw Portlaoise travel to Newbridge in search of a victory that would crown them league champions and return them to Division 1 of Leinster League. With rivals Railway Union and Carlow still in the hunt for the league title only a win would do Portlaoise.
Newbridge were anxious to upset the visiting teams plans and opened the scoring within the first 5 minutes when they drove a lineout close to the Portlaoise try line over. The kick was missed and Portlaoise were suddenly very aware that this league title was going to be hard earned.
Portlaoise quickly levelled the score. A strong kick chase put pressure on the Newbridge kicker and his mistake gave Portlaoise a scrum. From the ensuing scrum Portlaoise earned a penalty and kicked to the corner. They drove the lineout over the try line for Richie Bond to touch down and to level the score at 5 points each with 10 minutes played.
Portlaoise began to take charge of the game. Newbridge did launch an attack from inside their own 22 and made good ground up the pitch. An excellent tackle from Kevin Griffen quickly halted Newbridge’s progress and the ball won back.
Portlaoise were stretching the Newbridge defence with forwards carrying strongly and the back line looking to run through gaps. Portlaoise worked the ball once again towards the Newbridge line. Mark Sherlock picked the ball up 5 metres out and couldn’t be stopped. Scully added the conversion and Portlaoise moved 12-5 in front.
Newbridge did manage another try before half time and added the conversion. With the half time score at 12-12 in Portlaoise’s favour a tight second half was in store.
The second half saw Newbridge take the game to Portlaoise. The Portlaoise defence has been resolute all year and Sunday was no different. On numerous occasions Newbridge were close to the Portlaoise try line only for Portlaoise to remain patient in defence and turn the ball over when the opportunity arose. This seemed to drain the Newbridge side who were unable to break through.
Portlaoise began to show why they have been top of Leinster League Div 2A for quite a time. They began to work their way back up the pitch through a series of strong carries by backs and forwards and placing huge pressure on the Newbridge back 3 when they received the ball from kicks.
Portlaoise were now playing nearly all the game in the Newbridge half. Once again Richie Bond and Mark Sherlock were on hand to finish moves by crossing the try line. Their efforts moved the team 22-12 in front. Portlaoise had been stronger all around the pitch, dominating the breakdown area and denying Newbridge any space.
The hosts did add a penalty late on to secure a losing bonus point but the day belonged to Portlaoise who won with a try bonus point. These 5 points meant that no result from any other ground could deny Portlaoise a long awaited league title and a return to Division 1.
Captain Will Sherlock accepted the trophy on behalf of the team and thanked the players for their commitment since August. He also paid tribute to coaches Paul Brady, Alan Burns , Roy Glynn and Enda Fingleton for their efforts.
Portlaoise now move to Division 1B for next season but their season is not over yet. There is the small matter of a Towns Cup Quarter final against Wicklow on March 20th in Togher. Who knows this could be a 50th anniversary to remember!