Naas CBS 19 Gorey Community School 14

Naas CBS advanced to the last eight of the Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Junior Cup with a gutsy defensive performance against a fired-up and powerful Gorey CS team.

The re-scheduled first round tie was preceded with a minute’s silence and memorial to Denise Walsh (RIP), a cornerstone of Gorey Rugby Club for many years.

From the kick-off, Gorey employed their well-honed tactic of testing the Naas defense at the fringes and with big carries in the midfield.

But it was Naas who took the lead against the run of play on four minutes when flanker Robert Shaw was driven over by his forward colleagues, following good field position attained by the outside backs.

Fullback Andrew Osborne converted for 7-0. Three minutes later, Osborne again was part of some good link play to put right-wing Sam Dunne over in the corner and it was 12-0 to Naas.

However, Gorey were playing some good rugby, retaining the ball against the wind and competing ferociously on the ground.

Following relentless goal-line defending and a number of penalties, they got their reward when Colm Donnelly drove over to make it 12-5, with the conversion added by Jack Higgins.

From the kick off, Naas pounced on some loose play on the right hand side and Andrew Osborne ran in to score comfortably, securing a 19-7 lead at the break with the conversion.

Gorey had the stiffening breeze behind them for the second half and the tactic of securing field position and going through multiple phases paid dividends early when Ronan Cleary breached the Naas defense, four minutes into the second half. The conversion made it 19-14 and a cracking contest ensued thereafter.

Naas lost both Paddy McMahon and Calum Stout from the pack, as Gorey piled on the pressure in a tense and exciting final quarter. However, the Naas line would not yield.

A number of scrums and lineouts inside the Naas 10-metre line led to a succession of hard contests, with a turnover on the gain line from Naas substitute Jamie Carroll proving a decisive moment.

Both teams were out on their feet as the final whistle approached. A knock-on, under pressure in added-time in the Gorey midfield, was the final act as Naas CBS progressed to a last eight tie with Gonzaga SJ on February 28.