Lansdowne ended their scoring drought in emphatic style at Templeville Road on Friday night with a comprehensive six try to two, 38-20 victory over a struggling St. Mary’s side who now find themselves in trouble near the bottom of the table.
On a cool, dry evening, with a stiffish breeze blowing down the slope towards the road end, Lansdowne played with the elements in the first half. With the conditions in their favour it was important to get off to a good start, and this was achieved following an excellent cut through the middle by pacey winger Cian Kelleher off quick line out possession for the opening try in the third minute.
Out half Conor McKeon, who switched position with Scott Deasy from last week’s match against UCD, converted for a settling 7-0 lead. McKeon had a fine game, leading the back line well and his positional kicking in difficult conditions, in particular in the second half, was exemplary.
Lansdowne continued to press, but McKeon was unable to take advantage of penalty opportunities in the 7th and 11th minutes to extend the visitor’s lead. Lansdowne were made to pay for their profligacy after 13 minutes when last season’s Blackrock SCT captain and No. 8 Nick Timoney – a fine prospect, and one of three of last season’s ‘Rock SCT pack playing for Mary’s – took advantage of the home side’s first excursion into the Lansdowne half to score from a maul on the Lansdowne line. Full back Gavin Dunne converted with a fine effort from out wide.
With both sides suffering early on in the line out, good possession from this source was proving to be a precious commodity. Lansdowne took advantage of an overthrow by St. Mary’s to set up an attacking platform which stretched the home defence. Flanker Aaron Conneely, who was prominent throughout, took full advantage of a penalty line-out attack to cross for Lansdowne’s second try in the 33rd minute, with McKeon again adding the extras for 14-7.
Mary’s came storming back, however, and, in only their second venture into the Lansdowne half once again came away with points from a Dunne penalty after some good home pressure to narrow the gap to 4 points at half time.
Facing into the wind and gradient in the second half, there may have been some trepidation in Lansdowne supporters’ hearts as play recommenced. The visitors stormed into the attack, however, and a great burst by flanker Joe McSwiney, who put in a barnstorming performance on the night, set up a good attacking position from which Lansdowne pummelled the Mary’s defence.
The front row of Ian Prendiville, Tyrone Moran and Adam Boland had already established early dominance in the scrum. On this occasion, however, Boland was penalised for a low scrummaging position – it could have gone either way – and Lansdowne men were left rueing a great opportunity lost. St. Mary’s cleared their lines, and took advantage of a further penalty to set up an attacking position from which Dunne slotted a third penalty to narrow the margin to 14-13 after 50 minutes. Lansdowne’s discipline was now put under a stiff examination and, to their credit, they did not falter.
The front row proved to be the cornerstone for the pack to establish ascendancy in the tight, ant this was a dominance they exploited more fully in other areas as the game progressed. With McSwiney once again in the van, the forwards drove St. Mary’s back off a stolen line out ball and set up the platform for centre Tom Farrell to cross for a crucial score after 64 minutes play, converted by Scott Deasy for a 21-13 lead. This rocked St. Mary’s and Lansdowne struck again within three minutes with the try of the match.
A clearing kick was fielded by Cian Kelleher on his own 10 metre line; he set up full back Deasy to make a telling thrust up the right side, which was quickly recycled for the backs to take advantage of disarray in the home defence, with winger Eoghan Quinn diving over in the left corner to score a great counter-attacking try and establish a 26-13 lead.
Lansdowne were now in full cry and quickly took advantage of a breakdown in home side- discipline after 72 minutes when second row Joe McSwiney was the beneficiary of a driven penalty-line out to cross for Lansdowne’s fifth try. Deasy again converted. A rampant Lansdowne side again took advantage of penalties conceded by the home team to establish a position deep in the St. Mary’s 22. From this, a McKeon cross-kick was fielded by Cian Kelleher, who set up centre Farrell to romp over for his second try and an unassailable 38-13 lead after 77 minutes.
There was still time for St. Mary’s prop Brian McGovern and Lansdowne second row Brian Moylett to be yellow carded – Moylett having been punched in the face – and for home out-half Cathal Marsh to show good pace in outstretching the Lansdowne defence for a try in the dying moments. Gavin Dunne added the extras to put a home gloss on the final score line of 38-20 in favour of the visitors.
Lansdowne’s next match may well prove to be a season-defining one – home to unbeaten leaders, Terenure College, next Friday on the main pitch in the Aviva Stadium. Confidence will be high following on from this morale-boosting victory, and will be boosted further if you can be there to cheer on your side in what promises to be an epic confrontation with our other D6 neighbours.
Match Report: Michael Daly
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