Lansdowne v Clontarf
Ulster Bank AIL Division 1A
Aviva Stadium, 27th September 2014
Lansdowne FC 9 Clontarf 6
Lansdowne recorded their third win on the bounce in seeing off a determined Clontarf side in a hard-fought encounter on the Aviva main pitch on Saturday. Once again, Lansdowne struck with an injury time penalty to seize the spoils in what has to be said was a somewhat fortuitous outcome.
This try-less match was distinctly one for the purist. Fortune favours the brave, however, and this time it was sub Conor McKeon who slotted home the vital over-time penalty from 35 meters out on the 15 meter line. McKeon’s kick split to posts to send the home supporters into rapture and broke the hearts of the Northsiders.
The match was a battling affair between the top teams in the table and the current and former AIL Champions, as both sides sought to attain ascendancy up front. In a distinctly nervy affair, neither side managed to do so, as both packs battered each other almost to a standstill. In the end it was Clontarf who blinked first, and Lansdowne seized the spoils.
Once again, Lansdowne opened well, and the backs set up an early attack through centre Tom Daly. Stephen Gardiner pilfered a ‘Tarf line out and the pack set up an effective driving maul. The referee came back for a penalty to the home side which was duly slotted home by out-half Scott Deasy in the fourth minute. Lansdowne continued to press, but were unable to capitalise on their territorial advantage. The visitors responded, and former Trinity out half David Joyce equalised with a penalty in the 15th minute.
The home side made light of the absence of injured Ireland Under 20 international prop Peter Dooley, and Ian Prendiville helped anchor a secure scrum and was lively in the loose. Once again, a high penalty count against – 12 – and 3 free-kicks conceded frustrated much good work on the part of the home side. Both defences were strong and as a result breaches of the gain-line were rare as both teams tackled gamely.
Kiwi scrum half Adam Griggs went off injured in the 26th minute and Clontarf then took the lead in the 28th minute through a second Joyce penalty. Opportunities were few and far between, however, and the score remained the same, 3-6, at the break.
The battle resumed with both sides struggling for control and to establish a platform for attack. Stephen Gardiner, who had an otherwise fine match, was sin-binned in the 50th minute for dragging down a line out lost on our own ball as both teams sought to employ the rolling maul, but with limited success. Lansdowne raised their game in response to their reduced numbers and enjoyed their best period of the match. Clontarf conceded four penalties in quick succession, which set up an opportunity for first Deasy, who missed from 25 metres on the left, and subsequently McKeon to level matters. The sub struck his first effort as sweet as a nut from the 10 meter line to bisect the posts and level the scores at 6 apiece.
Gradually Clontarf began to make inroads into the Lansdowne half, and were assisted by a poor call which incorrectly gave Clontarf a line-out deep in the home side’s half. The visitors ramped up the pressure, using centre Matthew Darcy to good effect and Lansdowne had to dig deep defensively. In the 71st minute Lansdowne were harshly penalised but Joyce missed the relatively easy kick. He was guilty of a further miss from even closer after 74 minutes when he struck the upright. With four minutes of remaining time Clontarf’s best attack of the afternoon resulted in Darcy being tackled into the corner as the home side defended stoutly. Once again captain Ron Boucher was in the thick of things and he was ably supported flankers Aaron Conneely and Joe McSwiney and by sub Jack Dilger.
It was Dilger’s late break-out after a quickly-taken free kick that saw him pin his ears back and head for the ‘Tarf line, only to hauled down inside the 22. The visitor’s full back Ariel Robles transgressed, however, and was yellow carded. This set up the final penalty chance seized upon by the cool-headed McKeon to apply the coup de grace and send the visitors back across the river bemoaning their luck.
Next up is Ballynahinch away on Saturday the 4th of October; the team would welcome your support for their foray into the wee North.
Match Report: Michael Daly
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