What a cracker of a match! The elements, which had condemned the first meeting between these two sides in mid-December to a water-boarding forward slog, relented this time and conditions were nigh perfect for winter rugby.
The outcome was a 15 try rugby feast, with 10 to the home side as both teams served up a sparkling and most entertaining exhibition.
Lansdowne fielded a much-changed side from that defeated by Garryowen the previous week in Limerick, with recent Connacht cap Tom Daly linking up with Harry Brennan in the centre, while Daniel McEvoy, Alan Bennie in the backs and Oisin Dowling and Ronan Kelleher – emerging as a serious talent in the Leinster ranks – returned to bolster the Headquarters side.
Trinity, fresh off a 54-31 win against Durham University last week, also lined out fairly full, with no less that 12 players in the Ireland Under 20 and Ireland Student squads.
Lansdowne hit the ground running, and it is true to say that the match result was effectively over within the first 15 minutes, with the home side 28-points to 5 ahead and a try bonus point secured.
The first score arrived on two minutes, a simple snipe down the narrow side seeing left winger Peter Sullivan cross untouched for Scott Deasy to add the extras. The students won possession from the restart, but a loose pass was picked off by Sullivan on his own 10 metre line, and there was no catching the muscular winger as he coasted to the line for his second.
A few moments later scrum half Alan Bennie made a characteristic break and linked up with tight head Ian Prendiville on a good inside line; the ball was recycled several times before being shifted left and right-wing Daniel McEvoy was there to finish off as Trinity were run ragged.
Deasy added the extras and Lansdowne were 21-0 ahead and in complete control with only 9 minutes on the clock.
Or so they thought. The Students showed their resilience, however, and a sharp attack down the left saw former Under 20 international second row Jack Dunne force his way over. Out half Fennelly hit the post with the conversion, but Trinity had shown their attacking prowess and that they were not going to roll over.
Lansdowne’s reply was immediate – from the restart they were on the attack again and a neat ball to Sullivan saw him complete the quickest hat trick by a Lansdowne player in League history. Scottie again was sure-footed with the convert, and the home side had stretched their lead to 28-5 on the quarter hour as the spectators scarcely had time to draw breath between tries.
The Headquarters side added to their total in the 22nd minute when referee Richard Horgan, having consulted his touch judge, awarded Lansdowne a penalty try and a yellow card against Trinity out half James Fennelly for batting down a scoring pass -35-5.
Lansdowne stretched further ahead in the 39th minute when, following good work by the pack in a line out maul and powerful rumbles by Prendiville and Kelleher, McEvoy dived over for his second and Lansdowne’s sixth try, with the ever-reliable Deasy once again goaling.
There was still time for Trinity to show their attacking strengths before the half time break, when flanker Patrick Nulty, a late call-up for Max Kearney, slipped a tackle and sprinted over from 20 metres out. Fennelly converted to leave the half-time score line 42-12 to Lansdowne.
The second half was only a pup when Lansdowne pulled further ahead. This time it was the rolling maul which worked, with Ian Prendiville doubling his AIL try count in his 103rd match. Deasy again ensured the maximum return was achieved – 49-12.
Daniel McEvoy was yellow-carded for an interception while in an off-side position, but a turn-over saw the Students fail to press home their numerical advantage.
The benches were emptied, and Lansdowne scored again following good work by Alan Bennie, supported by subs Denis Coulson and James Rael, which saw No. 8 Aaron Conneely cross for Lansdowne’s ninth try as the half century was brought up – 56-12.
All this time Trinity were plugging away and never stopped trying. They were further frustrated when the ever-alert Scott Deasy intercepted on his own ’22 and raced away to score his side’s second intercept try. The Student’s sub back, Conor Lownes was subsequently sin-binned for going in on Deasy on the ground after he had scored his try.
Deasy failed to convert his own try from wide out but his try brought his personal tally to 19 points and the score-line to 61-12.
Winger McEvoy ran in Lansdowne’s tenth try in the 69th minute to bring up his own hat trick of tries on the day – 66-12.
After that, the home side understandably took their foot off the pedal somewhat and the gallant Dublin University side took full advantage; Under 20 international panellists Giuseppe Coyne and Ryan Baird crossed for tries to give the visitors a try bonus point.
There was still time enough for their captain, winger Colm Hogan, to cross for Trinity’s fifth try on the final whistle, which he drop-goaled himself to restore some semblance of balance to the proceedings with a final score-line of 66-33. Now that was entertainment!
Lansdowne continue their battles with the students – their fourth match in a row – with a visit to the Mardyke to take on a UCC team that ambushed Garryowen in Dooradoyle last Saturday. Clearly, nothing can be taken for granted as Coach Ruddock and his team plot a trip to Leeside next weekend!
Match Report: Michael Daly
Match Details: Ulster Bank AIL Division 1A Round 10: Lansdowne FC v. Dublin University FC
Venue: Aviva Stadium Back Pitch
Date: Saturday, 19th January 2019, k.o. 2:30pm
Referee: Richard Horgan
Score: Lansdowne 66 Dublin University 33
Scorers: Lansdowne: Tries: Peter Sullivan 3, Daniel McEvoy 3, Penalty try, Ian Prendiville, Aaron Conneely, Scott Deasy; Cons: Scott Deasy 7, Pen try con
Dublin University: Tries: Jack Dunne, Johnny McKeown, Giuseppe Coyne, Colm Hogan, Ryan Baird; Cons: James Fennelly 3, Colm Hogan
HT: Dublin University 42 Lansdowne 12
LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills (capt); Daniel McEvoy, Harry Brennan, Tom Daly, Peter Sullivan; Scott Deasy, Alan Bennie; Martin Mulhall, Ronan Kelleher, Ian Prendiville; Oisin Dowling, Willie Earle; Jack O’Sullivan, Tom Murphy, Aaron Conneely.
Replacements: James Rael, Denis Coulson, Jack Dwan, Tim Murphy, Tom Roche.
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Jack Kelly; Donal Liddy, James Hickey, Philip Murphy, Colm Hogan (capt); James Fennelly, Rowan Osborne; Giuseppe Coyne, Dan Sheehan, Dylan Doyle, Arthur Greene, Jack Dunne, Johnny McKeown, Patrick Nulty, Niall O’Riordan.
Replacements: Joe Horan, Bart Vermeulen, Ryan Baird, Reuben Pym, Conor Lowndes.