Metro League Division 2
Lansdowne FC 7 – 6 Blackrock College RFC
For the first time ever, a Lansdowne team hosted another club on the new all-weather pitch in Gonzaga College on a frosty Monday night in Ranelagh. The players reported that the pitch offered an excellent playing surface, but the subzero temperatures made the ball slippy and handling errors prevented the game from ever turning into the spectacle the frozen spectators gathered might have hoped for.
The game was a tight encounter from the kickoff and it was half an hour old before the scoreboard saw any action, with Blackrock piercing the uprights with a penalty. Scrums were more or less even, with the home side narrowly edging out the visitors overall, with just one or two lapses. The Lansdowne lineouts, however, were particularly strong, with hooker Rory O’Donnell throwing with laser-like accuracy to any of a number of excellent jumpers, including Aaron Daly, Shane Kennedy and later from the bench, Evan Fenton.
Even though Lansdowne were playing most of the enterprising rugby, with centers Ross Bailey Kearney and Rory Cunningham frequently breaking the gain line, Blackrock’s sometimes last ditch tackles (and our failure to connect with the last pass) conspired to keep us from scoring. When Blackrock stretched their lead to 6 points with another penalty, it looked like we might come off unfairly worse of the two sides as the game entered the last quarter.
But captain and scrum half Rob Kelly kept the lads calm and focused and notably penalty free in the last quarter, often initiating attacks himself with sniping runs, supported by number 8, teak-tough Donal Liddy and 7 David Boyle. Our efforts were rewarded with territorial dominance and the visitors started to show their fatigue with an increasing penalty count. After one such penalty was awarded near the touch at their 10 meter line, a debate ensued among a hastily convened emergency committee. While they were arguing over a scrum or lineout, action man prop Paddy Butler tipped the ball to himself and charged over the line with three Blackrock defenders hanging off him. 5 – 6 with a conversion to come.
Waiting under the posts as outhalf Danny Hogan lined up for the kick, the ‘Rock touch judge asked nervously, “can he kick?”. As soon as Danny made contact with the ball 5 meters in from the touch, the Lansdowne judge was heard to reply proudly, “Yes he can!”.
7 – 6 to Lansdowne on the stroke of full time.
The game lingered for another interminable and freezing 10 minutes of injury time, but Lansdowne never lost control and went home battered and bruised but triumphant
Match Report: Brian Whelan