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03/03/2024

 

Lansdowne v Old Wesley J1

Metro League Premier 1

Lansdowne 45 – 20 v Old Wesley

 

The penultimate game of the league season took place in Energia Park in Donnybrook last Sunday and resulted in the J1 team further extending their unbeaten run against Old Wesley by seven tries to three. However, with the other contending top two teams winning it meant that the league positions remained the same with all picking up bonus points, so it is as you were at the top with one regular league fixture to play.

This was a good performance by the J1 outfit who play a strong flowing brand of rugby and showed the importance of having a good squad of players with some changes to the starting lineup and from a coaching / management point of view was very satisfying.

The opening score of this encounter came after just eight minutes when in good field position out half Tom Gavigan passed to full back Rohan Van Der Akker who threw a deft inside pass to the legendary Dan McEvoy who sliced through the home defence to score under the posts with Gavigan converting. Within a further few minutes, Van Der Akker had  added to the score line with a further quick start try following a fine cross kick from Gavigan leaving the score line at 12-0.

One taught that further tries would follow quickly given the dominance of the J1 team but in fairness to the home side they rallied and it was not until the 25th minute that following a back move the ball found its way into the hands of Matt Hodgins who spun cleverly out of a tackle to free himself and show a clean pair of heels to the defenders to score in the right hand corner.

Old Wesley to their credit had their own patch of possession / dominance and it was they who scored next just coming up to half time and with the conversion from the touch line, the score was closer than it should have been at 17-10.

The J1’s conceded a lot of penalties in the first half and there is no doubt that this ill-discipline cost them on the score board where they had promising positions which resulted in no scores. On the plus side the line out was better this week and Conor McMenamin at second row stole a few opposition throws.

Half time discussions were of more of the same but to show patience in attack and the scores would come. This was very much what would happen and following a Landsdowne line out outside the Wesley ‘22 a superb rolling maul which covered over 25 metres drove the home side back and led to Henry Godson skilfully scoring from close in. Gavigan added the extras and the score line now looked more comfortable.

Old Wesley on their home pitch struck back with an unconverted try of their own closing the gap to 24-15. The J1 back line however started to click, and every possession was leading to big gains in territory, and it was from one of these moves and persistent attacking that Van Der Akker doubled his try scoring tally for the day with a fine break from the ‘22 to increase with the conversion the score to 31-15. It should be said about Van Der Akker that he is a balanced stylish running utility back and an asset to any back line.

From the restart, the onslaught continued, and the home side looked bewildered and had no answer to the dominance of the J1 team. Gavigan who had overall a very fine game used a short kick through to allow that arch try scorer Oisin Devitt score. He had come on as a replacement and in scoring here he cemented his position as the team’s top try scorer by touching down following a foot race which again was converted by Gavigan and made the score 38-15.

The bonus point had by now long since being achieved and it was left to centre Brian Barron to complete the J1 scoring by crashing over from close in. This with the conversion left the score at 45-15. In the remaining minutes of the game to their credit Old Wesley never gave up trying and were rewarded with a try of their own leaving the final score at 45-20.

Special mention to all in a good team performance, and individually both Gavigan and Barron were very good all day in the back line. In the forwards mention to Oscar O’Brien the young flanker who both carried well and tackled whatever was in front of him. The J1 backline looked slick throughout the game and overall, the team at the moment is playing a fine brand of rugby meaning whoever are their opponents are finding them formidable opposition.

However, the league position remains the same with the J1 team lying in third place level on points with Trinity and two points behind the leaders Clontarf with one league fixture remaining.

The competition rules mean that where teams are level on points what divides them is the number of wins which is level and then the number of draws and here Trinity have drawn one and have one less loss. If this stays the same after the results next week, the J1 team will be cruelly denied a chance to defend their league title and with the way they are playing at the moment that is such a pity.

We will have to wait and see until the conclusion of the final fixtures with the J1’s last game in the league campaign being a home fixture against Terenure in headquarters on the afternoon of the 10th of March.

Whatever happens this team have performed to a high standard in recent months and their matches are very entertaining to watch with an emphasis on open and attacking rugby leading to high scoring games and enjoyment for any watching.

 

Match Report – John Kilroy

Lansdowne J1 v Old Wesley 3rd March 2024

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