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J3 Lansdowne V CYM at CYM, Sunday 13 January 2019
CYM 10 – 20 Lansdowne
Like their J2 brothers the day before, this J3 side had something to prove in this return fixture against a CYM side that beat us in October. And from their quiet and disciplined build up before the game, to the calm retention of a solid lead and execution of the victory, it’s clear to see how far this team has come since that dark weekend.

CYM got off to a flattering start with an early penalty that scurried over the post, but in truth they had little possession or territory in the first half as out-half John Delany used our wind and slope advantage well to keep the home side pegged in their own 22 for most of the half. Within 15 minutes, JD’s other half (back) David Staunton, went over for a try after a kick through and gather that was just reward for many phases of possession. The Lansdowne dominance continued with and without the ball, with open side flanker, Thomas Costello, extinguishing any attacks from CYM before they could get started with some crushing tackles. His work rate in general was rewarded with a try on 25 minutes and though they defended robustly, the home side presented little attacking threat for the remainder of the half.

It might have been a different story in the second half, as CYM took over the wind and slope advantage, but JD settled matters with an early penalty five minutes into the half, keeping the score at 3 – 17. It would be a stretch to describe the second half as pretty, with the forwards defending against CYM’s necessarily short attacking game (being devoid of any running back talent) and also our using the “Munster” move to hold onto possession. It was a war of attrition in close quarters, leaving those of us not versed in the fine art of course forward play a bit bewildered. But second row, Conor Byrne probably spoke for all of the forwards when he later described it as “a cracking scrap of a game!”

It wasn’t only the forwards that stood up to balance the account from last October. The half backs mentioned scored 15 points between them, wingers Pierre Poulard and Steve Keegan followed up on kicks through putting the hapless CYM defenders under fierce pressure and of course it was a tremendous club debut for yet another welcome Frenchman (there were five on the pitch at one point!), Nicolas Daymac.

But if you were to pick a man of the match, it would have to be two men, the old men in the centre. Ian “Beanser” Hopkins and Robert Manning, together adding up to nearly 80 years of age, were genuinely heroic. Inflicting and sustaining crunching tackles that men half their age would think twice about, they boldly represented the spirit of this team and indeed the club. Robert (age withheld for legal reasons) had played most of the game the day before with the J2’s in a fast and challenging game, but he and Ian had stood in at the last minute in the absence of a couple of late injuries and cry-offs.

With less than 10 minutes to go, CYM snatched an intercept for another seven points on the board, but JD slotted over another penalty inside the last few minutes to restore the ten-point margin. Despite their protestations about and to the ref at the end, CYM never really stood a chance against a Lansdowne J3 side that had a point to prove. And didn’t they just.

J3 winger and one of five Frenchmen on the team, Pierre Poulard arriving at CYM for Le Match!

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