REPORT COURTESY OF THE IRISH TIMES
Charlie Tector holds nerve as Kilkenny hold off Wesley in tight affair
Leinster Schools outhalf Charlie Tector held his nerve to kick Kilkenny into the Senior Cup quarter-final in Donnybrook on Thursday. Leinster League semi-finalists Wesley came into this with a degree of confidence which grew when Tector missed a penalty and their Jack Atkinson didn’t for an early edge.
When Kilkenny hooker Darragh O’Reilly was binned for a high tackle, it opened the door to the possibility to build on a solid start. However, Tector, fullback Jonathan Crossley and wing Adam Strong all looked strong on the ball and Kilkenny has plenty of ideas on how to keep Wesley at bay by keeping the ball to themselves.
The swirling wind was a problem which played havoc with the kicking strategies as both schools looked to probe for openings; Wesley opting for a more direct approach and Kilkenny looking to the wide channels. Wesley number eight Oisín Spain was everywhere, flying into the air to claim a high ball, Tector matching that with one of his own takes in a game of good moments without the continuity to make them matter.
The half-time break gave the respective coaches the breathing space to make adjustments and Kilkenny went after the territory. This paid a seven-point dividend when Tector powered through a tackle and executed an offload for captain Ryan Strong to claim the tonic of a try, Tector converting for the lead in the 42nd minute.
The adrenalin was coursing at this point and Wesley’s Spain, in his eagerness to make a difference, was red-carded for a tip tackle on Joshua Coyle. Wesley reacted well to this setback, moving upfield to set up two scrums inside the 22, Atkinson taking the ball on from the first and O’Reilly infringing after the second to be sent-off for a second yellow.
The body blows were coming thick and fast for Kilkenny as centre Luke Fitzpatrick muscled over for Atkinson’s conversion to make it 10-7 in the third quarter.
Not long after, they were temporarily reduced to 13, replacement Fiach O’Byrne leaving the field for a fierce tackle that looked legal from the stands. It looked a long way back for Kilkenny. Still, Adam Strong put on the pressure to force a scrum and Tector knocked over a penalty in the 63rd minute. He was back again four minutes later to snatch the lead before Kilkenny held out in a hectic endgame.
KILKENNY: J Crossley; G Edogun, M Hodgins, R Strong (capt), A Strong; C Tector, J Coyle; S Neale, D O’Reilly, C Chamney; N Pim, J Caldbeck; J Treacy, R Jacob, J Akanji-Murphy.
Replacements: H Dawson for Edogun (17 mins, temp); F O’Byrne for Jacob (48); L Foot for Coyle (59).
WESLEY: G Dunne; A Galbraith, L Fitzpatrick, T Elliott, J Matchette; M Collins, J Atkinson; P Costello (capt), C Gilmer, J Fish; K Wallace, S Cronin; T Geoghegan, D Campbell, O Spain.
Replacements: S Verdon for Collins (27 mins); M Collins for Cronin (48); T Durham for Dunne (63).
Referee: P O’Connor (Leinster Branch).