Lansdowne J2’s 28 – Clontarf 29
Saturday 26 January, Lansdowne Road
Heart breaking as the extra time try and conversion were that allowed the Clontarf visitors snatch the match, most observers would agree that this was a cracking contest.
Peter Reilly’s charges showed how warmed up they were for this match and this phase of the season with a ferocious start from the kick off, leading to four phases of crisp passing, a break from out-half Oran James and a try under the post from his other half, Rob Kelly in under two minutes. Game on!
But despite of continued pressure from us, Clontarf slowly regrouped and defended well while slowly building up their own attack. This led to a score on 25 minutes. Then a swift reply from us with Oran James completing a perfect loop movement and pass to winger Shane Donnelly for a try in the corner (see photos). Ten minutes later Ross Barry broke off the side of a ruck, running 20 meters before touching down for another. Half time 21 – 7.
But ‘Tarf showed they’d come for a match and opened up the second half with a brace of tries of their own. 21 – 22. They missed a conversion but made up for it with a penalty, so when Tom Finucane broke through the middle of their centre line and ran in 30 meters for our fourth converted try, we were 28 -22 with only four minutes to hold on. But a series of penalties and a few extra 10 meters for back chat handed the initiative back to the visitors and in spite of our dogged defence on the line, ‘Tarf went over for a try. The conversion was never really in doubt.
A great team and too many individual excellent performances to mention, this side are very close to the top of their form. Class, and commitment in abundance, but maybe lacking the clinical ability to close out a game.
One final point worth mentioning about both sides’ games against Clontarf this weekend. In each game, both Lansdowne and Clontarf committed their healthy share of infringements, but in both games, Lansdowne conceded far more penalties. “Playing the ref” is as important a skill as any at this level, and if we want any silverware this or any other season, we’re going to have to get better at it.
There. I said it.
Match Report: Brian Whelan