It's not often that you come back from Limerick with a bonus point win under your belt but that is exactly what Lansdowne managed to achieve on Saturday against Garryowen in round 7 of the the Uster Bank League. The win moves Lansdowne nicely up the table to 4th place trailing behind the leaders Clontarf and fellow Leinster clubs Old Belvedere and UCD in 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
Lansdowne started the match with great intent and dominated possession in the opening stages. The first try arrived after 5 minutes when Jack O'Connell took advantage of some weak midfield defence to run in from 40 metres (yes 40!!) in the left corner. A great individual effort for a player who has been short on rugby so far this season.
Both teams traded penalties leaving the score at 8 - 3 Lansdowne. With Lansdowne continuing to have the upper hand they were awarded with a penalty following a strong scrum drive and elected to kick for the corner. The subsequent line out saw the pack maul Garryowen back over the try line with Charlie Butterworth crashing over for a good forwards try. 13 - 3 Lansdowne.
Lansdowne continued to force the pace and Cian Aherne capitalised on a missed touch clearance from Garryowen, counter attacking with some great elusive running which brought play from just inside the Lansdowne half to 5 metres short of the Garryowen line. A couple of close drives later and the ball was moved wider and after Tom Kiersey and Foster Horan both came close the ball was moved through the hands for Jack O'Connell to dive over in the corner for Jack's second and Lansdowne's third try. Another difficult conversion was narrowly missed and the score stood 18 - 3 in Lansdowne's favour.
Garryowen started to come back into the game and after a series of drives in the Lansdowne 22 their cause was helped further when Lansdowne were reduced to 14 men when Clive Ross was sinbinned for an offence at the lineout. Some gutsy defence saw Lansdowne weather the storm and reach half-time with their 18 - 3 lead still intact.
Lansdowne rung the changes at half-time with young half backs Ian Burke and Tom Kiersey making way for the more experienced Paddy O'Driscoll and Scott Deasy and Peter Dooley replacing Jack O'Connell up front.
The second half began as the first half had ended with Lansdowne still down to 14 men and on the back foot. Some more great defence saw Charlie Butterworth lift the siege though and as the ball was moved wider Simon Morrrissey made a great break out of defence to relieve the pressure. The sin bin over Brian O'Callaghan replaced Clive Ross to bring Lansdowne back to their full compliment.
Another loose kick from Garryowen and another counter attack from Lansdownethis time from Scott Deasy yielded a very kickable penalty in the Garryowen half but the team had greater ambition, instead opting to go for the corner and turn the screw on the Garryowen pack. The decision was more than justified when 2nd row Moylett scored off the lineout maul. Deasy made no mistake with the conversion to make it 25 - 3 for Lansdowne.
Straight off the kick off Lansdowne attacked with Charlie Butterworth first winning possession and then Boucher and Dooley combining well to get the team moving forward. Running off the subsequent ruck Butterworth broke the next tackle with a great 40 metre break and was finally grounded just outside the Garryowen 22. The ball was moved wide and Cian Kelliher went tantalisingly close. Quickly recycled ball saw Lansdowne rewind back and Butterworth with his third touch of the ball in the same move scored in the corner. A great try followed by a great conversion from Deasy to put Lansdowne in an untouchable position.
Garryowen attacked like a team who had nothing to lose at this stage and the ensuing pressure saw Lansdowne lose two men to the bin. The Limerick side eventually took advantage of their numerical advantage with Ronan O'Mahony dotting down for no more than a consolation try in the closing minutes which they duly converted.
A well deserved victory for Mike Ruddock's men. The league continues with our last home game of 2013 this week against a formidable Dolphin outfit in Lansdowne Road. Let's see you in Lansdowne for a great game and in the bar afterwards for the Leinster game.
Article related to 1st XV team.
Article related to 1st XV v Garryowen fixture.