Lansdowne continued their strong opening to the 2016-2017 Ulster Bank AIL campaign with a powerful performance against a gritty, but ultimately outgunned, Terenure side on the main pitch last Saturday.
Played in persistent rain throughout, the greasy ball meant that cohesive back play was at a premium, and the match was settled up front, where the home side had distinctly the better of affairs.
A try bonus point in such adverse weather conditions was a notable achievement, and for this Lansdowne owe a huge debt of gratitude to their sterling front row of Peter Dooley, Tyrone Moran and captain Ian Prendiville, who played a captain’s role and was awarded the “Man of the Match” award for his efforts. They were ably support by sub prop Ntinga Mpiko and sub hooker Shane Fenton, with the former wading in with his debut try for the First XV.
Indeed, three of the four Lansdowne’s tries came from the forwards, as the team adapted their approach to meet the testing conditions and took on the Terenure forwards up front. Terenure battled resolutely, but they were seriously outplayed in the pack; Lansdowne won no less than eight penalties and a free kick in the scrum set piece, as well as a penalty try.
Early exchanges were mostly of a sparring nature, although Lansdowne established a territorial dominance which they enjoyed for most of the match. A great tackle by Mark Roche after three minutes created a turn-over and resulted in Lansdowne’s first scrum penalty, which was duly despatched by out-half Scott Deasy from 45 metres out for a 3-0 lead after 5 minutes.
The Headquarters side continued to batter the Terenure eight, and a series of scrum penalties (the final penalty count was 14-5 in Lansdowne’s favour) led to several line-outs inside the visitor’s ”22. The home line out did not function well, however, and several good opportunities were lost as Lansdowne struggled with the wet ball. After 22 minutes Tom Daly intercepted a loose Terenure pass and made ground, passing to the supporting Prendiville and the ball was put through on the deck to the Terenure line. Scrambling defence saw the visitors clear their lines.
Second rowers Stephen Gardiner and Josh O’Rourke, who had an excellent match, were putting themselves about. Open side Jack O’Sullivan, last season’s Under 20 captain, was making a nuisance of himself among the Terenure pack. An exciting prospect, O’Sullivan was a late replacement for Joe McSwiney in the back row.
Lansdowne’s set-piece dominance continued and, following a series on scrum penalties and re-sets, the visitors loose-head, Kieran Moloney, was yellow carded in the scrum. The scrum battering continued until finally referee Dudley Philip’s patience ran out and he trotted under the posts on 34 minutes to award a penalty try. Scott Deasy stroked over the conversion for a 10-0 lead.
Lansdowne continued to pressurise a harassed Terenure defence, with good work by centre Tom Daly and winger Charlie McMickan almost yielding tries. The visitors defence was stretched on several occasions, but held out and half time saw Lansdowne with what was a comfortable 10-point advantage, given the conditions.
The pattern of the first half continued after the break, with both sides frequently resorting to the kick as handling conditions deteriorated in the incessant drizzle. Lansdowne continued to have the better of the forward exchanges, but their line-out shortcomings frustrated several good attacking positions. The ensuing slug-fest was not high on the entertainment register, in truth, but Lansdowne maintained the whip hand over their tenacious opponents.
The home side had a narrow escape off an isolated Terenure attack after 68 minutes, and a powerful driving maul which took the ball out of the 22 resulted in a second yellow card for a Terenure forward for bringing down the maul.
Lansdowne were grinding down the visitors’ resistance, however, and a tiring Terenure pack conceded ground as No. 8 Max Deegan rounded off a concerted series of ruck attacks on the line before allowing Tom Daly to go over for a try. Deasy, who kicked well in testing conditions, converted and Lansdowne were clear at 15-0 with five minutes of regular time to play. On 80 minutes Lansdowne drove the Terenure forwards, who were by this stage out on their feet, off their own scrum ball and a series on pick and goes resulted in sub tight head Mpiko plunging over for his first try.
From the restart, Max Deegan broke straight up-field from inside his own ten metre line; the ball was recycled quickly and Peter Dooley completed a great day for the front-row union with the all- important bonus point try in the 81st minute. Sub back row Charlie Butterworth came on to make his seasonal debut and helped maintain Lansdowne’s physical ascendancy.
Terenure gained the consolation of a try at the death as Lansdowne eased up, a tribute to their enduring spirit and competitiveness against a physically stronger Lansdowne side. Centre Conor Finn’s 84th minute try took the bare look off the score line, but Lansdowne had gained ample revenge for their heavy defeat in Lakelands at the fag-end of last season. Full back Mark O’Neill’s missed conversion with the last kick of the game was their only attempt at goal all afternoon, as the visitors were well shackled by a rampant Lansdowne forward unit.
Next Match: Lansdowne v. Old Belvedere: Friday the 30th of September, Aviva back pitch. Kick off 7:30pm. Book early for the pre-match dinner, which is selling out fast!
Match Report: Michael Daly
Lansdowne FC 29 Terenure RFC 5
Ulster Bank AIL Division 1A 2016-17
Aviva Stadium Main Pitch, Sat. 24th September 2016 k.o. 2:30pm
Referee: Dudley Philips
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Article related to 1st XV v Terenure College fixture.