Lansdowne head coach Mike Ruddock will have to wait a while longer before recording his first win at Young Munster’s Tom Clifford Park fortress.
It was perhaps unfair to expect these two sides to serve up another classic, following Lansdowne’s narrow victory pre-Christmas in that eight- try epic on the Aviva Stadium back pitch.
The lazy- man’s flip over of AIL home and away fixtures at the half way stage of the campaign – surely the League deserves better – saw these two table- topping rivals play each other back-to-back last Saturday. As it was, it appeared to be largely a case of over-familiarity as both sides learned from their recent clash and, as a result, managed generally to counter each other’s strengths.
The result was a tightly fought affair, with both sides struggling for control up front without ever really achieving it, while both backlines used a blitz defence out wide to close the opposition down. With referee Mr. Dudley adopting a laissez faire approach to the off-side rule, defences were largely on top for most of the game.
Lansdowne’s preparations were severely disrupted before kick-off by the loss of Irish International Seven’s captain, Tom Daly, through an injury sustained during the warm up. This resulted in John O’Donnell moving from left wing to centre and sub back Charlie McMickan coming on to the wing. Lansdowne’s only alternative player available was prop Jacob Walsh, and the visitors started the match with only one back sub as a result.
If there was little to separate the sides in a highly competitive affair, ultimately it was a “Man of the Match” performance by teenage Young Munster out half Alan Tynan – a recent member of the Ireland Under-20 training squad – which separated the sides. His five from five performance with the boot in testing conditions was excellent, in particular as it had rained before kick- off and half time saw the large attendance scrambling for cover as a squall broke over Greenfields. A young player to watch.
Lansdowne fielded a strong pack, welcoming back loose head Peter Dooley and No. 8 Max Deegan from Leinster “A” duty. However, the Visitors were pushed back in the first scrum and were penalised. Tynan took full advantage with a fine effort from 40 metres to add to his earlier successful penalty to establish a 6-0 lead after only ten minutes’ play.
Lansdowne slowly played their way into the match and the scrum steadied to yield a couple of penalties. Out half Scott Deasy was wide with an effort from 38 metres and, overall, fell a little short of his own high standards with the placed ball.
On 22 minutes, right wing Daniel McEvoy followed up strongly on a probing Deasy kick, earning a penalty 20 metres out from which Deasy made no mistake to narrow the deficit to 3 points. Lansdowne continued to play in fits and starts, however, and their line-out malfunctioned, with six balls lost during the course for the game on their own throw.
Young Munster took advantage of Lansdowne’s failings and began using their characteristic rolling maul to good effect. A blocked down clearance by Eamonn Mills saw a Cookie’s scrum close to the Lansdowne line. After several pick and go’s, centre Cian Bohane emerged from the bottom of a maul to claim the game’s first try after 25 minutes. Young tyro Tynan deftly added the extras and the home side led by 13 points to 3.
Lansdowne’s response was swift, and from a scrum penalty Deasy kicked them to the Young Munster 22. From the subsequent line out maul, scrum half Alan Bennie made a cracking break close in and crossed for a fine individual try. Scott Deasy converted and the visitors were back in the match at 13-10 in the 32nd minute.
Both sides were guilty of turning over possession through simple errors, with Lansdowne, perhaps, the guiltier party of the two. After a second line out was lost on 38 minutes, Lansdowne were penalised in front of the posts and Tynan did the necessary for his team to establish a 16-10 half time lead.
The heavy shower during the interval didn’t help handling conditions, but Lansdowne still had their second half chances. Their third scrum penalty after 47 minutes saw a five metre line-out; the ball was mauled, but turned over and the chance was lost. A further scrum penalty saw the visitors on the attack once more as they enjoyed their best spell, but again they were unable to capitalise on hard-fought pressure.
Good play by Mills saw play into the home ’22 and Deasy followed this up with a clever grubber kick but, frustratingly, possession was turned over. Further pressure saw the Cookies concede a penalty 18 meters out to the left of the posts, but the normally most reliable Deasy was unable to capitalise from the tee. A clean break by O’Donnell up the middle saw the centre hesitate momentarily and the defence scrambled effectively.
Lansdowne had largely run out of ideas by this stage, and Tynan rubbed salt into the wounds with the only score of the second half – an excellent penalty from 45 metres out after 77 minutes – to deprive them of even the consolation of a bonus point.
The visitors were well supported, with a strong contingent from Headquarters travelling to Limerick for the occasion. Still top of the league, Lansdowne have everything to play for in the coming weeks, starting with the St. Mary’s home match next Friday at 7:30pm. What a great way to begin the international weekend!
Match Report: Michael Daly
Young Munster RFC 19 Lansdowne FC 10
Ulster Bank AIL Division 1A 2016-17
Tom Clifford Park, Sat. 28th January 2017 k.o. 2:30pm
Referee: Dudley Philips
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