It was, once again, the Scott Deasy show as the Lansdowne skipper, in a rich vein of form since the New Year, was Lansdowne’s match winner against a lively Galwegians side last Saturday at a sparsely- attended Lansdowne Road.
Already the League’s top scorer with 136 points before last weekend, the Lansdowne out half added another 25 to his tally, with two tries, three conversions and three penalties to his name as his side gained revenge for the 41-20 reverse in Glenina last October. Deasy was successful with 6 kicks out of seven, and struck the placed ball quite beautifully throughout.
One has to go back to Eoghan Hickey in the 2010-11season to find a greater personal tally and only Hickey (26), Corey Burt (26 - 2005/06) and Matt Leek (27 & 28 - 2002/03) have bettered his effort in the past. Indeed, with a season tally of 161 points and three matches still to play, Deasy’s total already puts him in 9th place in terms of seasonal totals behind Craig Ronaldson’s top 206 in season 2012/13.
Deasy sparkled in a Lansdowne performance which was by no means perfect. Played at a fast pace, to their credit both sides sought to play an expansive game. Too often, however, their efforts were frustrated by unforced errors and as a result the game lacked a cohesive pattern, particularly in the first half. The absence of second-row Tadhg Beirne, who was pulled on Friday night by Leinster to act as 24th man, was made up for by good performances by second-rowers Phil Donnellan and Josh O’Rourke.
Both sides were guilty of defensive lapses, leading to early tries by Deasy and ‘Wegians centre Api Pewhairangiangi. Lansdowne’s accuracy with the boot gave them a 10-5 advantage, but a well-worked move saw the visitors snatch the lead through the strong running of winger John Cleary, his sixth try in as many matches.
The home side lost Eamonn Mills on the half hour, and he was replaced by Finn Gormley on the wing, with Ian Fitzpatrick moving to full back.
Galwegians struck again through a try from No. 8 John Kelly which was converted by out half Aidan Moynihan as the home defence was again caught napping, but Scott Deasy’s second fine supporting effort, which he converted from wide out, saw the sides level-pegging 17-all at the break. The visitors enjoyed much of the play during the first period, and could consider themselves unfortunate not to be leading at the interval.
Lansdowne’s early scrum superiority was slowly eroded as Galwegians replaced one of their props, but Ntinga Mpiko can feel well pleased with his first senior start, while Ian Prendiville at tight head put in his usual robust performance. One turn-over penalty he won late on in the match, in particular, with his side under pressure, stood out as a key turning point in the game.
Lansdowne upped the tempo after the break, and some strong running by centres Foster Horan and Tom Daly took the game to the Westerners. Mark Roche was his usual lively self, while Fitzpatrick rescued his side with a cracking run when under strong pressure from close to his own line which brought play deep into the visitor’s half.
Lansdowne took the lead through a strong surge from No. 8 Ross Deacon, who showed good strength in finishing off a strong forward rolling maul. Galwegians struck back through a soft penalty try awarded by referee Eddy Hogan O’Connell, who will have better games, which was converted by Moynihan to level matters again at 24-all. This gave ‘Wegians a try scoring bonus point, and for a time it looked as if they might gain all five.
Lansdowne stuck to their guns, and mounted good pressure which began to pay dividends as the visitors were penalised just outside their 10-meter line with five minutes remaining. Deasy stepped up and struck the ball as sweet as a nut between the posts for a 27-24 lead.
There was still time for Deasy to add to his personal tour de force with another fine penalty effort which left the visitors requiring a converted try in injury time which the home side never looked like conceding to them.
A 30 points to 24 win and four points to Lansdowne, two points to Galwegians was the outcome of a match played in a good spirit, leaving the home side in sixth place in the table on 36 points, just two points off the last play-off place.
So, a lot to play for as we next visit Lakelands this coming Saturday to take on a Terenure side fighting for its Division 1A survival. With all the ingredients of a dog-fight shaping up, it would be good to see as many Lansdowne supporters as possible turning up to support their team.
Let’s see you all there!!!
Match report: Michael Daly
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