For the second week in succession, Lansdowne ran up 45 points against student opposition, as the league leaders cruised to a convincing home bonus point victory against Trinity.
Lansdowne had defeated Trinity on the 5th of November 2016 (“Chicago Day”) in the away fixture by a much tighter margin, 25 points to 14. Since then, the fortunes of the two sides have diverged and the Students are now hovering perilously close to the relegation places.
Conditions were nigh on perfect as Mr. Philips set the contest in motion, the home side playing with a slight breeze to their backs. The visitors opened brightly, and good kicking placement saw them establish territorial position in the Lansdowne half.
A resultant penalty was successfully converted by Trinity out half Jack McDermott after four minutes to give a three point lead. Sadly, from the students’ perspective, this was the only time they were to trouble the scorekeepers all afternoon.
A penetrating run from left winger Foster Horan, whose aggressive running and refusal to go down in the tackle led to several Lansdowne attacks, set up a penalty and scrum option close to the visitor’s line. Two penalties later and the ref signalled for the inevitable penalty try as the Trinity front row buckled under the pressure exerted by Messrs. Jacob Walshe, the outstanding Tyrone Moran and captain Ian Prendiville. Out half Scott Deasy added the extras from in front and Lansdowne were ahead 7-3 after 9 minute’s play.
Horan, Ty Moran and Max Deegan then combined down the right to bring play close to the Trinity line again. The students strayed offside, Scott Deasy brought play to the Trinity posts for No. 8 Deegan, in a Man of the Match display, to surge over from the resultant ruck. Deasy added the extras and the score line moved to 14-3 after a quarter of an hour.
If Deegan was bringing the finesse to the Lansdowne forward play, the grunt was being provided by fellow back rowers Joe McSwiney and Willie Earle, who, along with Stephen Gardiner and Josh O’Rourke in the row, took on the big Trinity forwards and established a great platform for the backs to prosper.
Foster Horan continued to be the dominant force in the backs, making enormous yardage, before his efforts were rewarded in the 22nd minute when he made a simply unstoppable burst through the visitor’s defence to ground beside the posts for Deasy to again do the honours and push the lead out to 21-3.
Lansdowne gave a debut at Senior Level to Fergal Cleary at outside centre; he played for the U20’s a couple of years’ ago, but then injury saw him drift away from the game for a few seasons. On Saturday he showed distinct promise – good distribution and rock solid in defence. Sharpened fitness which will follow from longer involvement with the squad should see him evolve into a leading member of the side.
Trinity, to their credit, began to play their way slowly back into the match, and for the rest of the half they were on the attack. All they had to show for it was a missed penalty by McDermott as Lansdowne showed excellent organisation in defence to repel several attacking rucks and mauls within inches of their line. Vital turnovers were won in turn by scrum half Alan Bennie, McSwiney and Prendiville as Trinity couldn’t find a way through Lansdowne’s aggressive defence.
The same pattern was apparent for a short period following the resumption – Trinity hammering away at the Lansdowne defence, which remained organised and disciplined. Tinga Mpiko came on in the front row, only to be forced off for a head assessment after only a minute on. Foster Horan went off with a leg injury – this lad is really too brave for his own good.
Matthew D’Arcy came on and made an immediate impact at scrum half, replacing the live-wire Bennie.
Trinity’s short period of dominance went unrewarded and they began to tire visibly. Their scrum continued to suffer a battering, culminating in a yellow card for tight head Andrew Keating after 58 minutes. Lansdowne, sensing their opponent’s vulnerability, moved in for the kill. From the yellow card penalty, Deasy put the ball in the corner. The line-out, which was much improved on the day, saw the maul formed and inevitably it was Moran who came up with the try and a 26-3 lead, extended to 28 by Deasy’s goal.
Further injury disruption followed, with Tyrone Moran retiring with what appeared to be a hamstring injury – another player who was having a stormer. Still Lansdowne kept up the momentum and pressure on the students. On 69 minutes a Trinity move broke down, and Deasy hacked through and gathered to cross for a soft try.
Five minutes later the visitors failed to deal with a Mills high kick and the ball broke nicely for right winger Dan McEvoy to gather at pace and stride home for his 10th try for the campaign and a 38-3 score line.
Scott Deasy was unable to convert, but made no mistake in adding the extras to a Mark Roche try which was Lansdowne’s seventh of the afternoon as they cruised to a 45-3 win at no side.
Trinity were unlucky to find Lansdowne in such good form; however, they faded badly in the last quarter to give a slightly lop-sided aspect to the score. Let’s hope the injuries sustained aren’t too serious, as we will need every one of our squad fit for the challenging games remaining.
Next up is Clontarf away on Friday, the 3rd of March in Castle Avenue. This will be followed on Saturday the 11th of March by the visit of Cork Constitution, and which will also be the Moss Keane Tribute Match. Lansdowne will be joined at the pre-match lunch by Mossie and Anne’s two daughters, Sarah and Anne Marie and also by his brothers for a commemorative presentation to the Family. It promises to be a very special day, and you are cordially invited to be part of the occasion.
Please contact Elayne in the club office for details and to book your place.
Match Report: Michael Daly
Match Details: Lansdowne FC 45 Dublin University FC 20
Ulster Bank AIL Division 1A 2016-17
Aviva Stadium Back Pitch, Sat 18th February 2017 k.o. 2:30pmReferee: Dudley Philips
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