MALAHIDE closed to within a point of top spot of rugby’s Leinster league division 2A after they got the better of leaders Kilkenny 26-19 last Sunday at Estuary Road.

The visitors had come into the game with a four-point lead at the head of the table and Malahide were keen to gain some manner of revenge for their opening-day 19-12 defeat in Kilkenny.

Since then, though, the side has been in exceptional form and this made it seven straight wins to make for a titanic tussle in the second half of the season.

The tenacity of the Malahide defence was a feature throughout and was evident in the early phases in heavy underfoot conditions.

Eventually, with 25 minutes gone, the defensive shackles were lifted by a superb bit of individual play from Eoin Barber. He used his strength to hold off a tackle from his opposite number and a nice little inside pass to out-half David Williams saw him cross the Kilkenny line unchallenged.

A Carpenter conversion and penalty extended the lead to 10 points with just a conversion coming from Kilkenny before the half-time interval.

Colin Corkery replied after the break with a sweetly struck long range penalty to make it 13-3 but Kilkenny’s response was immediate.

With good retention of possession, they managed to force a penalty 40-metres out. A well struck kick in difficult conditions brought the visitors back to within seven points.

Another exchange of penalties brought the score up to 16-9 going into the final 15 minutes before Malahide were able to fashion the defining score of the game. A weak Kilkenny clearance kick found its way to Malahide number eight Keith Harrell.

His pass found David Williams and when the out-half found Eoin Barber, the winger had the luxury of ignoring a two-man overlap as he burst through two would-be tackles and scored his second try.

Carpenter’s straight forward conversion brought the score to 23-9 and Kilkenny looked to be a bit shell-shocked as Malahide moved swiftly back into attack and forced another penalty, which Carpenter converted.

At this stage, Malahide might have been on course to top the table, but a late Kilkenny push saw them earn a converted try and a last gasp penalty to bring them within seven points, earning a losing bonus for their troubles and just shade the standings.