A cold, wet and thoroughly miserable night saw the Castle Avenue pitch pass a referee’s inspection prior to the kick-off.
The ominously glistening pools of water under the floodlights didn’t augur well for the spectacle to come, and the worst fears of the few brave supporters from both sides who braved the elements were soon realised. This was going to be one for the purist and really there was one overall winner on the night – the weather.
Clontarf had a top quality G4 pitch on which both sides warmed up before transferring to the swimming pool next door; surprisingly, the lights on the G4 pitch are not up to match quality, and can be used for training purposes only.
Lansdowne played up the Castle Avenue slope with the aid of the wind from the east behind them. From the off, they invoked the referee’s ire and rapidly ran up a penalty count of five against in the first fifteen minutes, managing to double that tally to ten conceded on the half hour.
Second rower Josh O’Rourke paid the price for the team on the ninth penalty award, spending the next ten minutes on the Bold Boy’s Bench.
Clontarf, in the meantime, held their discipline better, although they did seem to get away with diving in over the top of mauls a lot….
The home out half, David Joyce, managed to chip away with his penalty attempts, and kicked sure-footed goals in the 3rd, 14th and 25th minutes to establish a 9-0 lead on a night when every point was to be cherished and where any meaningful back play was neutralised by the conditions.
The Lansdowne scrum was solid, if not spectacularly dominant, although it improved as the game progressed. The line out suffered in the conditions, although good shifts were put in by the always combative Joe McSwiney, Charlie Butterworth and Stephen Gardiner. A rare penalty to Lansdowne - the first half count was 10-2 against – saw out half Scott Deasy strike neatly from 35 metres to reduce the margin at half time to 9-3 in favour of the home side and give Lansdowne some hope for after the interval.
The rain, which had eased up temporarily, returned ten minutes before the break and continued for the rest of the game, further reducing handling error margins and resulting in a forward slug fest punctuated by the occasional high kick in the hope that your opponents would make a fatal error. Grim stuff, indeed.
The referee appeared to have had a change of heart during the interval, as the second half penalty count swung in Lansdowne’s favour, 8 to 4. Indeed, the side upped their work rate and played a game better suited to the conditions during the second period, but a try was the least likely outcome for either side.
Second half scoring was reduced to a single penalty from the reliable Joyce – four out of four on such a night was a great return - as he took his side’s lead out to 12-3 in the 58th minute.
Lansdowne upper their efforts, and the Clontarf sub prop, Ivan Socora, was yellow carded as the ‘Tarf scrum came under mounting pressure. Unfortunately, this led to uncontested scrums, as the home side had lost Georgian-born Ireland Under 20 prop, Vakh Abdaladze, early on in the contest. Lansdowne’s primary advantage was thus, ironically, neutralised.
The visitors continued to pressurise the home defence, and were rewarded late on with a penalty on the ’22 which would have given them the consolation of a losing bonus point. Sadly, the underfoot conditions had the last laugh, as Scott Deasy slipped on his run up and the ball drifted wide.
Clontarf were well organised and disciplined on a most demanding night and were well worth their win. Both sides seem destined for the play-offs where, if they meet again in the competition, it will hopefully be on a dry pitch where rugby will have some chance of being the winner!
Next Saturday, the 11th of March, sees another top four side, Cork Con, visit Lansdowne Road. Lansdowne have decided to avail of the match to honour the legendary Moss Keane in a tribute to one of the greatest sons of UCC, Lansdowne, Munster, Irish and Lions rugby.
A special presentation will be made at the pre-match lunch to the Late Moss and Anne’s daughters, Saran and Anne Marie. Mossie’s two brothers, Matt and Brian Keane, will also honour the Club with their presence. Our own Mick Quinn will speak about his great friend after the lunch, which promises to be a memorable, if poignant, occasion.
If you would like to be a part of this small piece of Lansdowne history, please contact Elayne in the Club – (01) 668 9300 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Tickets, including match admission, are €30, and lunch starts at 12:30pm.
After the Cork Con match, England take on Scotland when hopefully, we and out guests will be celebrating Ireland’s topping the 6 Nations Table for the first time this season!
Finally, well done to our Under 20 squad, who won the JP Fanagan Under 20 Leinster League title last Sunday in a thrilling match against Trinity in College Park. The score line of 38-29 summarises a match to top quality, attacking rugby which was a credit to both teams.
Well done to Fassie, Mark Mac in absentia and all the coaching and management team as well, of course, the players on a magnificent achievement - without a Scholarship boy in sight!
Match Report: Michael Daly
Match Details: Clontarf RFC 12 Lansdowne FC 3
Ulster Bank AIL Division 1A 2016-17
Castle Avenue, Fri. 3rd March 2017 k.o. 7:30pm
Referee: Gary Conway
Article related to 1st XV team.
Article related to 1st XV v Clontarf fixture.