A well-attended game played at a high tempo in near perfect conditions on the Aviva back pitch last Saturday saw Lansdowne gain ample revenge for their defeat at the hands of the League-leaders last November. A 17 point haul from the boot of out-half Scott Deasy, bringing his tally to 45 points in the three games since the New Year, saw the Lansdowne captain continue his rich vein of form as he was successful with six kicks at goal out of eight attempts.
Afterwards, UCD were quick to point out that they had outscored the home side by three tries to one, but penalties kicked are a reflection of territorial dominance and pressure, and in this regard Lansdowne were undoubtedly worthy of their win.
Having said that, if UCD had taken their own chances off the tee, the result could have been different. Stephen Murphy, the Collidge captain, took on the place kicking duties as regular kicker, out half Bobby Holland, had a quad strain. The gamble did not pay off, and the Belfield side must be ruing the several kickable attempts their stand-in kicker miss-cued.
Although played at a quick pace, the first half was a slow burner. Home left winger, Ian Fitzpatrick, again showed his sharpness and appetite for the game, and he ran his UCD counterpart, Barry Daly, close in terms of the outstanding three-quarter on display. The Students having taken a lead in the eight minute through a Murphy penalty, the Lansdowne scrum then won three penalties in a row, as the tight three of Jack Barry, Jack McKenna and Ian Prendiville, in particular, asserted their authority. Their powerful scrummaging effort set up a good attacking position from which Deasy struck the first of his five penalties, a fine effort from 38 metres out, to level matters at 3-3.
Good play by the visitor’s no. 8, Greg Jones, supported by a telling thrust into the line by Daly saw UCD on the attack, but a wayward pass saw Lansdowne clear their lines through another penalty. From the resulting line-out, slick Lansdowne counter-attack through Fitzpatrick was carried on by scrum half Adam Griggs, and only a strong tackle by Daly on the threatening Mark Roche averted the first try of the match.
Further good play by home full back Eamonn Mills saw Lansdowne take the lead through a second Deasy penalty after 34 minutes. Lansdowne should have scored when flanker Joe O’Brien didn’t see Fitzpatrick looming up on his outside, while Collidge were held up over the line as play swung from end to end.
It looked like the score would remain 6-3 at the break until UCD took advantage of slack home defence following a five metre scrum for prop Liam Hyland to score a try in injury time. Murphy missed the conversion from a relatively easy angle, but the visitors were nonetheless ahead by 8-6 at the break.
Lansdowne started the second half well, early thrusts by Deasy and second-rower Josh O’Rourke unlucky to result in turn-overs. Sub Foster Horan, making a welcome return after injury, was hungry for work and brought a buzz to the Lansdowne attack. Two penalties in quick succession, however, set up a UCD line out in the Lansdowne ’22. Flanker McGroarty took a flat pass and the home defence stood back momentarily, which allowed blind side Josh Murphy to scramble over for the try and a 13-6 lead to the Students after 49 minutes.
Lansdowne responded immediately. Mills, always safe under the high ball, made a telling cut on the counter-attack that was continued by right wing Cian Kelleher, and play then switched across the park down the left. From the quick recycle, Deasy flighted a superb cross kick for the lively Kelleher to gather unopposed and cross wide out for the try of the match. Once again, Deasy was equal to the task from the tightest of margins to bring matters level at 13-apiece.
Lansdowne now had the bit between their teeth and, roared on by their vociferous support, had Collidge on the back foot. The pace of the game picked up markedly as both sides gave it their all. Deasy kicked his side into the lead in the 65th minute with a superb effort from a difficult angle wide out on the ten metre line. He then took further advantage of a yellow card for UCD’s Hyland moments later to extent the Lansdowne lead to 19-13 as the home side continued to exert their scrum dominance.
This sin-binning resulted in uncontested scrums, which threatened to disrupt Lansdowne’s forward momentum. This danger was underpinned in the 72nd minute when UCD centre Jamie Glynn picked off a Deasy pass on half way to scoot over for a try, converted by sub out-half Liam Bourke, as Collidge snatched a shock lead against the run of play.
A lesser team might have buckled, but Lansdowne once again knuckled down to their task. Skipper Deasy finally missed a kick at goal, but the Headquarters side were not to be denied; following a great driving maul into the Student’s ’22, the penalty was duly awarded and it was fitting that Deasy had the final say as he struck his fifth successful penalty to seize the spoils for his side by a 22-20 score-line. A yellow card shown to winger Cian Kelleher came too late to affect matters, and it was time for the home supporters to draw a well-deserved, deep breath…
Match Report: Michael Daly
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