UCD completed the double over the League leaders on Saturday in the Belfield Bowl as they ran out convincing winners against a competitive Lansdowne side in what was an exciting and entertaining game.
“Collidge” thus held on to the Sutherland Cup and former Lansdowne Club Captain Peter Sutherland was on hand to present UCD with the trophy named in honour of his late father, the Great Billy Sutherland.
It is somewhat ironic that the last team to lower the Lansdowne colours back on the 1st of November was also UCD, thus ending the Headquarters side’s eight match unbeaten run, and the Students have now beaten Lansdowne in their last four AIL matches.
They say that you take Collidge on in a running game at your peril, as that’s what they do best; certainly the home side displayed some great attacking rugby, and for their part were matched in the enterprise stakes by the visitors for most of this compelling match.
Playing with the wind, Lansdowne went ten – nil up within the first eight minutes thanks to a successful Scott Deasy penalty and an opportunist try from winger Foster Horan, who wrestled the ball from an opponent and sprinted in from 30 metres. Deasy added the extras, but was unsuccessful with two penalty efforts in the first half, the first effort unluckily coming back off the upright.
Lansdowne were awarded penalties in the first and third scrums of the match, with Deasy’s first penalty from 38 meters arising from the latter. UCD’s excellent scrambling defence managed to negate much of Lansdowne’s set piece dominance until late into the match, however, and their opportunism in taking even the slightest opening was to serve them well throughout the game.
Impressive scrum half Bobby Holland took advantage of the Students’ first attacking foray into the Lansdowne 22 to squeeze over for an unconverted try in the 13th minute, which was followed almost immediately by a second score by winger Adam Byrne, created by an impressive surge up the middle by UCD second row Gavin Thornbury, who had a fine game. This was followed almost immediately by a Holland break which led to full back Sam Coghlan Murray crossing for another smart effort as the stunned visitors fell 15-10 behind after only 17 minutes.
To their credit, Lansdowne rallied the cause, and took advantage of the sin-binning of the UCD Captain, Emmet MacMahon in the 30th minute to draw level, powerful open-side Joe O’Brien crossing after pressure on the UCD seven from a five meter scrum. Scott Deasy added the extras for a narrow 17-15 lead. Better was to come, and after good work by Horan and fellow-winger Ian Fitzpatrick, centre Tom Farrell crossed under the sticks as the half went into injury time. Deasy converted for a 24-15 half-time lead in what had been a topsy-turvy half of turn-overs, missed opportunities and some fine attacking rugby by both sides.
Lansdowne’s passing had let them down on a few occasions, and UCD winger Barry Daly took full advantage of a foul-up in the Lansdowne defence to cross for what was a try bonus point for College, converted by Burke with the aid of the breeze, after 53 minutes. This narrowed the Lansdowne lead to 2 points, 24 - 22, but again the visitors dug deep and the front row of Ian Prendiville, Tyrone Moran and Adam Boland seized the initiative. Their scrum penalty got Lansdowne into the corner; the eight then put UCD under huge scrum pressure which culminated in referee Sean Gallagher trotting under the posts to award a penalty try.
With the simplest of conversions from Deasy, Lansdowne were looking good with a try bonus point in the locker and a 31-22 lead with 67 minutes played. The yellow-carding of Lansdowne flanker Eoin Walsh proved a catalyst, however, and UCD stormed back into the match, scoring an unanswered 16 points through two tries from Under 20 international sub Joey Carbery, making his debut for College, in the 77th and 81st minutes and two penalties on either side of his efforts from Bourke for a final score line of UCD 38 Lansdowne 31.
Lansdowne will be disappointed to have let the match slip; nonetheless the two bonus points garnered in defeat actually increased the club’s lead at the top of the table to 7 points, as Terenure lost to Clontarf. The outcome was a salutary lesson, however, that there is no room for complacency as we seek to secure a home semi-final berth in the play-offs.
Next up for Lansdowne is a visit to close D4 rivals, Old Belvedere, this Friday night, the 27th of February – and a cracking opening to the international weekend is in store! We enjoyed a narrow win in the home fixture, and there is never much in it when we visit the Lodge. Make sure you are there to lend your support to the cause as Mike Ruddock’s men battle on in what is a very tight and competitive Ulster Bank AIL Division 1!
Match Report: Michael Daly
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