Lansdowne J1 v UCD
Metro League Division 1
41 – 26
The J1 outfit took to the field for the second time in five days for this re-scheduled match again with a strong looking line up and came out victorious in what has to be said was a topsy turvy game in advance of the bank holiday weekend.
The scoring began with the students taking the lead following some good forward play. They gained good field position and from that after a number of phases their forwards crossed over to score from close in and with the conversion left the scoreline at 7-0. The conditions very much favoured the students in the opening half with a strong wind blowing downfield and one thought even at this early stage that they needed a good lead by the time the teams turned around at halftime.
It was Lansdowne who hit back following a fine break from winger Tom Roche who is rapid in space and the following a flowing back movement he was put in space out wide to break a tackle and outpace the defense scoring near the posts bringing the scores level following the conversion from Tom Gavigan.
From there what followed was a good period of forward dominance with Lansdowne gaining territory on the back of it. It was left to that try scoring machine Oisin Devitt to add to his season’s tally following good work by flanker Liam Forster. The extras were missed but the J1’S had by now the forward momentum and the bit between their teeth.
Although playing into the wind they used a mixture of holding possession and good tactical carrying when the opportunity presented itself and in so doing gained good field position. It was left to their classy durable flanker Liam Forster to extend the lead and make the score line 17-7. This soon became 24-7 when Roche scored his second try of the game following a good back movement involving both Dan McEvoy and Brian Barron with the conversion added by Gavigan.
The students to their credit continued to show a lot of fight and were to come back into the game just before half time with a try of their own which was converted following fine play from their Hooker who performed very well throughout the first half and with the conversion the score line at half time was 24 -14.
The second half commenced with the strong wind still very much in play and at the back of the Lansdowne team. The huddle talk at halftime was to use it to push the opposition back and take the game to them showing a ruthless streak. However, the opening period of the second half belonged to the away team and it was they who scored first and reduced the scoreline following a good spell of pressure with a try of their own which when converted brought the score to 24 -21.
The game was now close but both sides were guilty of making mistakes and there were some missed tackles. It was from one of those mistakes by UCD that fullback Matt Grogan exploited the error in open play to score near the right-hand post. This gave some much needed breathing space and pushed the score line out to 29-21. The said Matt Grogan who had a fine second half then doubled his scoring tally for the evening by scoring a further try in an opportunist manner which put daylight on the scoreboard at 34-21.
The students needed to react and that they did in scoring their 4th try of the night to reduce the score line to 34-26. There was still time to play and finally the outcome was put to bed with five minutes to play by winger Tom Roche who following a good passing movement got the ball wide on the left and beat his man to outpace the cover and leave the final score 41-26. It earned him with his hat trick player of the match.
The goal had been achieved by the J1’s who extended their winning run to three and with a further three games to play. One felt this was a stop start stuttering performance rather than a dominant display and there is no doubt work to be done on the training ground in tightening up their defence and set piece in the matches to come.
The division itself took another turn at the weekend with the two top sides Trinity and Clontarf drawing their game 22-22 and in so doing the leaders who are the next opponents of the Lansdowne J1’s gained 2 points to put them five in front of Lansdowne with three games to play.
The next game for the J1’s is a hugely important game where a winning display is a must if they are to continue their interest in finishing in the top two in the division this season. There is no doubt that with the top of the table so close that this could turn out to be a mouth-watering encounter and one not to be missed.
The next fixture versus Trinity will take place on the afternoon of Sunday the 18th of February at headquarters, and your full support is called on for that day in what is a must win game for the J1’s in this year’s league campaign.
Match report – John Kilroy