Ardee Rugby Club made it five wins from five in the Leinster League Division 3 on Sunday afternoon as tries from Conor Reilly, Aaron Keely and James Conlon helped the Townparks side see off a very spirited challenge from RCSI, winning through 24-17.
The league leaders were made to work for their victory against the Surgeons – who showed their ability to cut through the hosts on occasion, scoring three tries themselves including an eight minute opener on a bitterly cold afternoon in Ardee. That opener was unconverted and minutes later, Ben O’Brien – scoring the first of three penalties in the match – reduced the arrears.
Ardee RFC were without player-coach Ronan O’Brien Jnr but did welcome back James McSwiney to competitive action, with the Ballapousta man having resumed training upon his return from the World Skills competition in Abu Dhabi. After some concerted pressure late in the half, O’Brien’s second successful penalty saw the home side go in 6-5 in front at the interval.
Wingers Reilly, Cathal Bradley and Jason Monaghan had been given the chance to stretch their legs briefly during the opening half but it was in the second period that the game truly opened up. The Surgeons cut through their opponents for their second try of the game within three minutes of the restart. The conversion left Ardee with much to do.
But, they improved and went over three times to show for it. Conlon went over and after some bad handling in the RCSI backline, Bradley went close before Keith Halpenny’s pass sent Reilly through. Ten minutes later, Keely managed to get over in the right corner and while O’Brien failed to convert with his conversion attempts, the hosts had a lead to defend.
A swift, incisive breakaway led to the Surgeons third try, unconverted, as the clock ticked past 80 minutes. O’Brien’s last gasp penalty kick sealed the victory despite a flat performance at times from Ardee RFC. Still, their 100% record is intact and today’s win has opened up an eight point gap at the summit.
ARDEE RFC: Daithi Bowhan, Ciaran McCormack, James McSwiney, Jack O’Reilly, Stephen Harmon, Leigh Ross, Cillian O’Neill, James Conlon, Ben O’Brien, Keith Halpenny, Cathal Bradley, Jason Monaghan, Conor Reilly, Aaron Keely, Conor Hennessy.
Replacements: John Davitt for Conor Reilly, Conor Reilly for Jack O’Reilly, Ryan Cahill for Leigh Ross, Jack O’Reilly for James Conlon.