All eight fixtures in round two of the Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup survived the weather yesterday as 16 teams became eight in the quest for the Provincial Towns Cup title.
All eight pre-match favourites came through their respective games with some big scores being put on the scoreboards along the way. With the quarter-finals not down for decision until 18th March, attention will turn back to the Leinster League, but there are some top class teams and rugby left to be played in the 2017/18 instalment of the Provincial Towns Cup.
Tullow 46 Wexford Wanderers 3
There was to be no magical cup fairytale for Wexford Wanderers as they were put to the sword by defending champions Tullow. The Carlow club had home advantage and they made no mistake in booking their place in the last eight with a 43-point win.
The result was never in doubt with the Carlow men running in eight tries in a stress-free afternoon. Steve Smith, Shane Rohan, Joe Waters, Cillian Redmond, John Hanbidge, Charlie Ward and Aaron O’Byrne all crossed the whitewash with the sole response coming from a Wexford Wanderers penalty.
Ashbourne 33 Kilkenny 18
What a season it is shaping up to be for Ashbourne: leading Leinster League Division 1A , already crowned All-Ireland Junior champions and now safely through to the quarter-finals of the Provincial Towns Cup after they came through this Kilkenny test.
Ashbourne stamped their authority on the contest early on with a Donal Crotty penalty and a converted try from Joey Szpara putting them into a 10-3 lead. They crossed for another try, while Crotty was on target from a penalty again as the Meath side led 23-10 at half-time.
Kilkenny were now backed by the wind in the second half but Ashbourne didn’t give them a chance to settle into the half with tries from Alan Wall and Conor Hurley leaving them 33-13 ahead. There was a late consolation try for Kilkenny but there was no doubting the Meath men’s superiority on the day.
North Kildare 12 Wicklow 31
Hopes were high in North Kildare on Sunday. They had already taken out Division 1A side Dundalk in the opening round but they couldn’t repeat the feat with 2016 champions Wicklow coming to town and ending their cup run.
Baltic conditions with blizzards thrown into the mix greeted both sets of players but it was Wicklow who applied all the early pressure with Billy Ngawini crossing for their opening try after 12 minutes. Dean Leonard got their second try to give them some breathing space as conditions deteriorated.
Right on the stroke of half-time, Wicklow got in for their third try from Stephen Duffy with a monster conversion from the sideline courtesy of Brian Keegan.
Scores dried up in the second half. North Kildare pulled a converted try back to make it 19-7, but Wicklow responded well with Ben Porter and Dean Leonard crossing for tries to make it 31-7 with 15 minutes to go.
The hosts got in for a second try with 10 minutes remaining but Wicklow had the job done as they advance to the quarter-finals.
Athy 7 Gorey 29
Another Division 1A side through to the quarter-finals is Gorey, who are finding respite from a difficult league campaign with a good run in the cup.
The first half of this encounter was tough and neither side could really escape the other. They stood level at 7-7 with time almost up in the opening half but a try from Jordan Ahern two minutes before the break proved a crucial score as the Wexford men went in at half-time leading 14-7.
The next score was now going to be crucial. A try for Gorey would put the game to bed but an Athy response would really signal game on. It fell to Gorey with Marty Swart crossing on 50 minutes to give them a 19-7 lead.
Athy were gallant but conceded another try before the finish with Ahern crossing for his second and a 29-7 win.
Cill Dara 62 Portarlington 5
Division 2A rivals went head-to-head at the Curragh on Sunday with the home side making no mistake with a convincing 62-5 win. Cill Dara were in fine scoring form with 10 tries in 80 minutes to keep their cup run going.
It was actually Portarlington who got the opening score of the game on 12 minutes when they crossed the whitewash but this proved to be as good as it got for the Laois men with Cill Dara coming to life afterwards.
Tries from Paudy Wall, Ryan Bannon, captain James O’Loughlin (2), DJ Brannock and Tyson Doughty had the result beyond doubt at half-time with the home side leading 34-5. Tom Cleary continued on the scoring after just a minute of the restart with four more tries arriving before the conclusion of this one-sided encounter.
Enniscorthy 34 Longford 20
Enniscorthy were the fourth Division 1A side through to the quarter-finals after they got the better of Longford in a high scoring affair.
Longford are progressing well in Division 1B since their promotion last season and they did ask plenty of questions of the home side. Enniscorthy nerves were eased though early on when Ivan Poole crossed for a try before adding the extras to give them a 7-0 advantage after 13 minutes.
Five minutes later and Enniscorthy had another with Dave Dwyer touching down in the corner to build a 12-point lead.
Two Longford penalties kept the away side ticking over but Ivan Jacob got in for his side’s third try five minutes before the break to leave Enniscorthy leading 17-6 at half-time.
With a half an hour to go, Enniscorthy were rocked with a converted try by Longford and suddenly it was only a four-point game. The home side were awarded a penalty try with 20 minutes to go while another Ivan Poole penalty left it 27-13 with 15 minutes to go.
Poole was in scintillating form and he crossed for another try before adding the conversion to make the game safe at 34-13. Longford crossed for a late consolation try, but it was the Ivan Poole-inspired Enniscorthy who advanced with 21 points to spare.
Portlaoise 9 Skerries RFC 2nd XV 17
For the second year in a row, Skerries travelled to Portlaoise and knocked their hosts out of the cup. It was a tough and tight contest on Sunday last with Portlaoise coming very close to causing an upset.
They led 3-0 through a penalty after 15 minutes but a try and conversion from Robbie Jenkinson pushed Skerries into the lead on 18 minutes. The home side were up for the game and they continued with two penalties before the break as they led Skerries 9-7 at half-time.
The second half remained scoreless for the opening 25 minutes but Jenkinson landed another penalty to sneak Skerries ahead with 14 minutes to go. In a nervy and exciting finish, the game hung in the balance before a Skerries try deep into injury time finally shook off the Portlaoise men.
Clondalkin 23 New Ross 5
Clondalkin were also able to shake off some indifferent league form and advanced in the cup to give them a chance of landing some silverware. An early try helped them settle into the game and with Chris Jebb accurate from the boot they accumulated a 10-0 lead.
After a drop goal was added by the Clondalkin side, New Ross responded with a try for their only score of the game to make it 18-5 in the second half but a late try from Darren Madden made the game safe and ensured Clondalkin’s presence in the quarter-final draw.
Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup 2nd Round Results
North Kildare RFC 12 Wicklow RFC 31
Ashbourne RFC 33 Kilkenny RFC 18
Portlaoise RFC 9 Skerries RFC 2nd XV 17
Cill Dara RFC 62 Portarlington RFC 5
Athy RFC 7 Gorey RFC 29
Enniscorthy RFC 34 Longford RFC 20
Clondalkin RFC 23 New Ross RC 5
Tullow RFC 46 Wexford Wanderers RFC 3
The 3rd Round Draw for the Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup took place in North Kildare RFC with the fixtures listed below. First named teams will receive home advantage with all games kicking off on Sunday, 18th March, at 3pm.
Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup Quarter-final draw
Enniscorthy RFC v Clondalkin RFC
Wicklow RFC v Skerries RFC 2nd XV
Ashbourne RFC v Cill Dara RFC
Gorey RFC v Tullow RFC