Rugby - Leinster League Division 1B

Longford failed to keep their winning record intact last Sunday when the journey to Ashtown Lane proved too much. Though still in second place with Monkstown hard on their heels Longford will rue missing out on even a bonus point from the encounter with Wicklow.

The journey down must have taken the edge of a Longford team that have looked so sharp up to this game. For their part Wicklow capitalised on the home advantage and will be pleased to get their first win of the season from a side that had been so resolute in defence up to this game.

This was a big game for both teams. Wicklow were looking to to dispel the hangover of their defeat to top dogs Tullow and improve on their drawn game in Ashbourne. Longford were hoping to capitalise on the momentum of the first two wins.

Though Wicklow had the upper hand throughout it was the boot of winger, Ben Swindelhurst, that really punished the visitors scoring 19 of the team’s tally. The referees marshalling of the back foot of the ruck took its toll on both teams as the first four penalties were all for offside.

The home side’s work-rate gave them the advantage and Swindelhurst kicked over two penalties before David Fagan had a chance to kick one for Longford. The Wicklow winger slotted over two more penalties before Fagan got another opportunity for, guess what, an offside. He popped it over to leave the score 12-6.

As the first half drew to a conclusion a big push by Longford came to nothing, and Wicklow’s advantage at scrum time gave them a psychological boost. But it was again the boot of Swindelhurst that pushed them ahead of Longford when an unfortunate decision to slap the ball out of the scrum half at the ruck saw the referee blow the whistle and the Wicklow winger landed the three points.

The half-time break had the Wicklow men ahead on a score of 15 to 6. Longford needed to get off to a positive start at the start of the second half, but they failed to do so. The scrum continued to get punished and they failed to get the back line firing.

Lethargic and lacking decisiveness the visitors could not fire themselves sufficiently to claw back the nine points. Longford’s reputation as a mean defence was tarnished in a ten minute period when the two Wicklow centres ran in tries and finished whatever chance Longford had of turning the game around.

In fairness to the visitors they continued to work and that labour got its reward when Clifford Richardson got a try. Fagan’s conversion left the score at 29-16 and that was how the game concluded.

Longford will be happy with the performance of Barry Stewart, Gary Rowan and Hubie Connolly, but not much else besides. This was just one of those days when things just did not go according to plan.

A bad day on the road for Longford and with the visit of Sean O’Brien’s Tullow this weekend. Longford will have a hard week ahead of them. After Tullow’s demolition of Ashbourne at the weekend continuing their strong run next Sunday’s visit of the table toppers to CPL Park is a crucial game. Needless to say the importance of home support is vital for this big contest.

LONGFORD: J Duffy, H Connolly, D Quinn, B McManus, B Stewart, B Fagan, P Gallogly, C Richardson, N Farrell, B Trueick, C Glynn, D Farrell, D Fagan G McDermott, C Kennedy.

Replacements: B Gilligan, G Rowan, K Richardson, M Mahon, J Connolly.