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Lansdowne J1s v Dublin University


Metro League Division 1 


Entry to the league final has been achieved by this team, with one fixture to spare, as they guaranteed their place in the final of the Metro League Division 1 as well as the number one spot, which gives them home field advantage in HQ for the final at a date to be arranged.
What remains to be answered is who they will play – with the second spot up for grabs between three teams theoretically.

Terenure retook second place after their win at the weekend, overtaking Old Wesley who suffered defeat to Clontarf, who mathematically are the other team in the mix in the fight for second place. Interestingly, the J one final fixture in the league is against Clontarf at home at the start of March and they must win that game if they (Clontarf) are to have any realistic chance of finishing second. Terenure play Old Wesley in their last fixture with a winner takes all look about it.


The match in College Park brought out the dog in the Lansdowne pack, who started the game on the front foot but were rocked by an early well taken try by Trinity. This was converted and left the early scoreline at 7-0 to Trinity. This score worked to clear away the slumber and the big dog clicked into gear with the Lansdowne 15 dominating possession and bullying the opposition. The home side defended with vigor but could not prevent a close in try from no.8 Dan Murphy following good forward play, the extras were missed, and the score changed to 7-5. From the kick-off this pattern continued and shortly after the award of a penalty Peter Hastie slotted the kick and the team was in front by 8-7. That was the last time the result was in doubt as the team started to strangle the opposition and enjoyed a lot of possession. However, it should be said again that there were some mistakes and wrong options taken which will have to be touched upon. Small things, but this team pride themselves on a high standard of Rugby and have demonstrated this on many occasions during this season. The scrum and line out both worked to good effect and led to penalties being awarded, enabling the team to gain good field position.

As the half went on it was crystal clear that the home side were having to work noticeably harder in defence. With their set piece going backwards at a rate of knots, it meant that they began to tire which would have a big effect later in the game. A further breakthrough came following good team play enabling Mr. Reliable himself Teddy Boland to add to his season total of tries and the conversion was added by Peter Hastie stretching the lead to 7-15. Full control had now been taken of the game and the scoreline was extended further following a second try by Dan Murphy again from close in range and showing the utter dominance of the Lansdowne forwards. This time the conversion was missed and the scoreline moved to 7-22. With the first half coming to a close, again following exerted pressure from this Lansdowne team, the aforementioned Dan Murphy secured a hat-trick of tries moving the scoreline at halftime to 7-29. This capped a fine first half for Murphy who is a physical hard-working player at No.8, and who brings a fine work ethic to cleaning out rucks and making a high percentage of tackles.

The second half began with the same pattern as the end of the first half continuing with Lansdowne very much on the front foot and the home side further tiring from having to constantly defend. By this stage the bonus point had been achieved but a further try followed this time from substitute Matt Healy who did well when he came on stretching the lead to 7-36. The onslaught continued and following good intelligent play from scrumhalf Mike Walsh a further try followed shortly after again increasing the lead to 7-41, with the conversion missed. There were still 20 minutes to play, and it was clear that the home side were floundering but to their credit following a Lansdowne mistake they did manage to score a second try which was added to by a fine touchline conversion leaving the scoreline at 14-41. Back came Lansdowne and again pressure was applied and following some fine black play the consistent Sam Burns managed to complete the scoring with the extras added moving the score to 14-48. There was still time left on the clock, but this was like a boxing match which was very one sided and the game ended shortly after to protect the home side from enduring more punishment.

The initial goal of reaching the league final had been achieved and the winning streak continues. We are very much at the business end of the season and with that the pressure levels will rise with each remaining game becoming a knockout situation but certainly this team has heretofore performed very well and with a huge degree of consistency.

The platform of having a dominant pack has ensured good streams of possession which have enabled a talented backline to execute and put the team into winning positions. The coaching staff of this side week in week out call and demand for improvement from the players and this has very much heightened team spirit amongst them which shows on the field. No doubt there are serious tests to come but certainly this team has put themselves into a good position to compete for silverware on two fronts which is all you can ask of them. Whether they will achieve this, time will tell but certainly for the writer there is a hunger there from them to complete the job.

Focus this week now turns back to the Metropolitan cup and a quarterfinal meeting at home to UCD. The fixture is set for Sunday afternoon the 26th of February at 3:00 PM at headquarters and it promises to be an entertaining game with the stakes being high and for the loser their cup campaign is over for another year.


Match report – John Kilroy

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