Terenure 19 – 21 Lansdowne
Metro League Division 1
This top of the table clash was very much dominated by the prevailing weather conditions. More particularly a very strong wind going from left to right, which Lansdowne played with in the first half. This J1 side has, for me, the best pack of forwards in this league and this was shown to good effect on Sunday, in this very tricky away fixture. It is very hard to win away in Terenure and victory was achieved primarily from a great forward display. They play for each other, watch each other’s backs and are all round competitive, combative and a very skilful eight.
The game started with Lansdowne on the front foot, following some clever tactical kicking which resulted in getting into good attacking positions in the red zone. They followed waves of attack towards the Terenure line, with good ball retention but facing a fierce and resolute defence from the home side. It took 15 minutes to break the deadlock. Surprisingly this occurred with Terenure in possession in their own 22 who tried to go wide, and Liam O’Sullivan intercepted a pass to touch down close to the posts, with the extras added by Jack Connolly to leave the early scoreline at 0 points to 7.
From the restart, useful kicking from Steven Madigan gained good field positions, and the Lansdowne forwards maintained a stranglehold in the Terenure 22. The pack, through some impressive carries pounded away, the pressure was mounting and they eventually broke through. Teddy Boland scoring, for the second consecutive match, with Connolly converting to leave the scoreline at 0-14. The home side to their credit, started to enjoy some more possession and after some ill-discipline from Lansdowne, leading to penalties, they gained good position inside the Lansdowne 22 and took full advantage of this from a rolling maul, which was skilfully executed for a try for Terenure. Converted following an excellent kick from the touchline into the wind, the scoreline was 7-14. However, there was still just over 10 minutes to play in the first half. Lansdowne probed away looking for a buffer score to extend their lead. They gained possession of the ball from turnovers, and in doing so managed to apply pressure on the home side.
There followed many phases of play with the ball being retained. This led to Lansdowne getting into the opposition 22 and going from side to side to try to break through. This eventually paid off when winger Shane Hourihane managed to pierce the resolute defence, right on the stroke of halftime. This with the conversion left the halftime scoreline 7 -21.
Was this enough? Given the strength of the breeze, that question was very much in the balance. As it turned out, the second half emphasized the excellent pack display, who scrapped, retained possession, and quenched the home side’s attacking play.
You get the impression that if this Lansdowne outfit really clicks, which they have been threatening to do throughout the season, that their opponents will take a good hiding. The scrum performed very well, and good game management restricted the home side’s attacking forays in the early stages of the second half. Out of touch, our own Lansdowne blond skyscraper Sean Walsh ruled the air, and in so doing maintained good possession supply. There were very good back row displays especially from Liam Forster, who is an abrasive competitor, and quenched the home side’s attack further. Furthermore, Hooker Luke Thompson is a dynamic all action player in the loose and was very effective at getting go forward ball. In the backs out half Stephen Madigan, like any good leader, marshalled and controlled his troops, and led by example. Tackling fiercely and only know one way which was is forward. He marginally earned this week’s man of the match mention from a close second Luke Thompson and Sean Walsh.
There was some beautiful footwork from Michael Sylvester, who is truly an evasive runner in open space. Mention must also be made to the bench because this team is 20 strong with everyone contributing. There were good cameo displays from Sean Dunne, Alex Kinahan, Connall O’Brien Michael Walsh, and Evan Downey.
Terenure are not known for ever giving up, especially on their home patch and it was with real determination that they started to mount a fight back, endorsing their reputation for their battling qualities. They used the elements to their advantage resulting in possession in the red zone and mounted many an attack which eventually led to a breakthrough for them in the form of a try, reducing their deficit to 12-21. Crucially however the extras were missed, and this proved to be very costly nearing the end of the game.
With the bit between their teeth, the home side continued to press, and Lansdowne were very much now on the back foot. Having spurned a golden opportunity for a bonus point, after a midfield break with the final pass not going to hand. Terenure struck again but this time the referee had a hand in it, awarding a penalty try after some persistent attacking closing the gap further to 19-21. Despite this close call, the remaining couple of minutes were uneventful and the vital away win had been achieved.
The writer felt it was closer than it should have been, as this J 1 side thoroughly deserved this victory. The win leaves them seven points clear with three matches to play and there is a quick turnaround to the next game which is set for Friday the 3rd of February at 7:30 PM in headquarters versus St Mary’s.
One senses that with a win from that match the league final beckons, but it will be no more than this team deserves as they are a great bunch who enjoy playing together and certainly have huge pride in the jersey, which they take onto the field every time they go out to play. I will keep you posted so for now I will put my pen down and sign off.
Tune In again next week for a further report.
Match Report – John Kilroy