There was just a kick of a ball in it at Energia Park where the Leinster Under-19s edged out a colossal effort from Connacht to win 21-19.
PWC IRFU UNDER-19 MEN’S INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP – ROUND 2: Sunday, August 29
LEINSTER U-19s 21 CONNACHT U-19s 19, Energia Park, Donnybrook
Scorers: Leinster U-19s: Tries: Hugh Cooney, Diarmuid Mangan, Sam Prendergast; Cons: Sam Prendergast 3
Connacht U-19s: Tries: Harry West 2, Tadhg Finlay; Cons: Harry West 2
HT: Leinster U-19s 14 Connacht U-19s 7
The Connacht U-19s suffered a second narrow defeat in the space of a week, despite the best efforts of two-try out-half Harry West, who also kicked two conversions.
His opposite number, Sam Prendergast, scored a try and kicked three conversions as Leinster moved a step closer to winning the PwC IRFU Under-19 Interprovincial crown.
With two wins out of two, Andy Wood’s charges sit at the top of the table on nine points. The second round match between Ulster and Munster was postponed.
Leinster, who made nine changes in personnel, did not hang around, full-back Henry McErlean returning a clearance kick with interest to draw an early penalty.
The decision was taken to go for the corner. A nicely-worked lineout maul was held up over the line with the compensation of a penalty for an infringement.
The lineout maul was used again, flanker Liam Molony peeling away. This time, Prendergast put Blackrock College’s Hugh Cooney over with a short pass, the former converting in the fourth minute.
Leinster were rock solid in defence until a gamble was taken, an interception missed, to open up a hole for West to stroll through for a try, the Ballina talent also converting in the 19th minute.
The home forwards showed how to handle when hooker Gus McCarthy made another break. Molony and Dan Carroll combined to take advantage of Diarmuid Mangan’s timing onto the ball for a fine try, converted by Prendergast.
When Leinster tighthead Paddy McCarthy was sin-binned, Connacht had to execute to expose their one-man advantage.
West and flanker Adam Hunter, from a delicious offload, engineered a half-chance for winger Liam Golden, but it was snuffed out by McErlean to leave it 14-7 at the interval.
A solid Connacht scrum was the basis for Fiachna Barrett to carry a threat. The ball was moved right for West to be twice involved in picking up his second converted try.
With Connacht back level in the 42nd minute, prop Jonathon Flynn retrieved a wonky lineout and West pulled the strings for captain John Devine to shoot through a gap.
However, advancing full-back Adam O’Carroll was rocked by a textbook contact from Cooney. It was all to play for as the increasing tension led to some scrappy phases and individual errors.
The energy of the Connacht team was infectious, illustrated by Sligo openside Hunter causing havoc in the back-field and replacement Andrew Sherlock scrapping for a loose ball.
Nonetheless, in an instant, Leinster were back in front. It owed everything to Prendergast’s refusal to go to ground from two tackles as the skipper escaped into the corner, adding a fine conversion.
Connacht roared back, a fantastic one-two between Devine and Barrett cut Leinster up. Devine and Hunter worked an overlap for replacement Tadhg Finlay to finish in style.
Crucially, the conversion was far out on the left. The kick was wide from West at the end of a match in which his contribution was nothing less than heroic.
LEINSTER U-19: Henry McErlean (St. Michael’s College); Noah Sheridan (Wicklow RFC), Hugh Cooney (Blackrock College), Darragh Gilbourne (St. Mary’s College), Ethan Laing (Blackrock College); Sam Prendergast (Newbridge College) (capt), Oscar Cawley (Naas RFC); Adam Duffy (Dundalk RFC), Gus McCarthy (Blackrock College), Patrick McCarthy (Blackrock College), Daniel Leane (St. Mary’s College), Diarmuid Mangan (Newbridge College), Dan Carroll (St. Michael’s College), Liam Molony (Blackrock College), Matthew Victory (St. Michael’s College).
Replacements: Tom Barry (Gonzaga College), George Hadden (Gorey RFC), Ronan Foxe (Tullamore RFC), James Doyle (Enniscorthy RFC), Josh O’Hare (Dundalk RFC), Fintan Gunne (St. Michael’s College), Matthew Lynch (Terenure College), Jed Tormey (Belvedere College).
CONNACHT U-19: Adam O’Carroll (Ballinasloe RFC); Blaine Barry (Connemara RFC/Galway Corinthians RFC), Adam Madden (Galway Corinthians RFC), John Devine (Ballinasloe RFC) (capt), Liam Golden (Ballina RFC); Harry West (Ballina RFC), Kelvin Langan (Monivea RFC/Galwegians RFC); Nicky Pfeiffer (Galwegians RFC), Adam Nash (Buccaneers RFC), Jonathon Flynn (Galway Corinthians RFC), Eoin Ryan (Sligo RFC), Lorcan Fallon (Buccaneers RFC), Gareth Kilkelly (Galway Corinthians RFC), Adam Hunter (Sligo RFC), Fiachna Barrett (Ballina RFC).
Replacements: Dylan Keane (Galwegians RFC), Aaron Burke (Ballinasloe RFC), Alex Hennigan (Ballina RFC), Harry Regan (Ballina RFC), Luke Walsh (Ballinasloe RFC), Andrew Sherlock (Galwegians RFC), Tadhg Finlay (DLSP FC), David Gacquin (Creggs RFC).