Saturday morning bragging rights over the cornflakes in the Ruddock household distinctly belong to Dad Mike, as his Lansdowne side gave St. Mary’s, captained by his son Ciaran, a second-half rugby lesson at Templeville Road last Friday night.
Club Captain Ian Prendiville was restored to the front row following a stint abroad, and was joined at prop by loose head Ntinga Mpiko. With Tyrone Moran at hooker, the Lansdowne scrum was a growing force during this match and, before its end, they were in total control, winning penalties on almost every put-in.
Other changes from Lansdowne’s last outing against Cork Con Saw Harry Brennan restored to outside centre and young Adam Leavy, who is with the Connacht Academy and who is younger brother of Leinster’s Dan, come in on the left wing to make his club debut. Adam looked very sharp in possession, and marked his first appearance for the Senior XV with two well-taken tries.
As Director of Senior Rugby Stephen Rooney had predicted during the week, St. Mary’s came out of the trenches with a vengeance early on, and threw everything they had at the Lansdowne side.
After only three minutes, off line-out ball on the Lansdowne ’22, out half Conor Deane (son of you-know-who) flighted a beautiful cross-field kick for Mary’s right winger and USA Eagle Tim Maupin to win the ball in the air and beat two defenders. He crossed for a slick try, which was converted by Dean. The home side was off to a flyer.
Lansdowne briefly entered the home half, but two penalties in a row saw the visitors back in their ’22. Mary’s were calling most of the shots, but Lansdowne were defending well and won a relieving penalty at a ruck on their own line after good work by Maupin had set up another St. Mary’s chance.
Having absorbed the home side’s best shots, the Lansdowne forwards began to come more into the game. Driven on by second rowers Oisin Dowling and Josh O’Rourke and a hard-working back row of Jack Dwan, Charlie Butterworth and Willie Earle, Mary’s began to buckle as pressure was brought to bear on their pack. The Lansdowne driving maul was used to great effect, and the psychological impact of being driven back in the tight gradually took its toll on the home side.
Lansdowne scored a try in the 31st minute, when some great interchanges between Ian Prendiville (twice) and Charlie Butterworth down the left saw young Leavy sprung free and he crossed for a nice try. Out half Scott Deasy made up for an earlier missed penalty with a well-struck conversion to level matters at 7-7.
Lansdowne had a let-off almost from the restart, as a Mary’s attack surged to the line, only for the ball to be lost forward at the last moment.
The latter moments of the first half saw Lansdowne pulverise the home forwards with a series of driving mauls. This saw them turn over Mary’s possession and set out a marker for the second half as the break arrived with the teams’ still level.
Playing down the Templeville slope in the second period, Lansdowne struck early, setting up another 30-metre driving maul, with Mpiko and right winger Daniel McEvoy, who looked sharp all evening, to the fore, while Eamonn Mills was simply majestic under the high ball throughout the contest.
Good, early second half pressure and line-outs close to the Mary’s line were frustrated by the line-out malfunctioning at critical times, but all the time Lansdowne were building up an irresistible momentum that was not to be denied.
The breakthrough came after 54 minutes when, following good build-up work by centre Harry Brennan and winger Leavy, scrum half Charlie Rock sniped in for a classic 9 try. Although the conversion was missed, Lansdowne had made a statement and they continued to dominate play. Former Ireland Under 20 prop Greg McGrath came on Mpiko and Alan Bennie for Rock on the hour, followed shortly afterwards by Jack O’Sullivan replacing Jack Dwan as the massive confrontation up front began to take its toll.
To their credit, St. Mary’s fought a stern rear-guard action, but the relentless pressure Lansdowne were now bringing to bear in both the tight and loose could have only one outcome. The key breakthrough came on 67 minutes when an attacking 5 metre scrum saw the home forwards driven backwards under their posts. Alan Bennie pounced for a 17-7 lead which Deasy quickly made 19-7.
Back came Lansdowne, with winger McEvoy sniping across the park from one wing to the other, where he linked up with his forwards. From the ensuing ruck Bennie again made the initial break, and he set up replacement back rower Jack O’Sullivan for a run in under the posts after 72 minutes for the bonus point score and a repeat of his first try for the Seniors on the same ground last season. Deasy tapped over the conversion from the easiest of angles and the lead was extended to 26-7 to the visitors.
There was still time for more action, and St. Mary’s were called back for a forward pass when it appeared they may have scored a consolation try. Second rower Oisin Dowling was yellow carded for lifting a player’s leg in a maul, but Lansdowne withstood the late pressure and turned the ball over to relieve the pressure. Under 20 centre/winger Tom Roche came on for Eamonn Mills on 70 minutes to make his second senior appearance for the club.
Winger Leavy had the last say when, following McEvoy’s interception of a St. Mary’s pass, he was set away by his fellow winger deep in injury time. This give Lansdowne, with Deasy’s conversion, 26 unanswered second half points in what was, in the end, an emphatic win against spirited and determined opponents.
Next up is a resurgent Garryowen side in Lansdowne Road next Saturday, which will provide a stern challenge for the Lansdowne table-toppers.
Match Report: Michael Daly
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE 7 LANSDOWNE 33
Scorers: St. Mary’s College: Try: Tim Maupin; Con: Conor Dean. Lansdowne: Tries: Adam Leavy 2, Charlie Rock, Alan Bennie, Jack O’Sullivan; Cons: Scott Deasy 4
HT: St. Mary’s College 7 Lansdowne 7
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE: Emmet Ferron; Tim Maupin, Darren Moroney, Marcus O’Driscoll, Craig Kennedy; Conor Dean, Paddy O’Driscoll; Tom O’Reilly, Richard Halpin, Adam Coyle, Ciaran Ruddock (capt), David O’Connor, Daragh McDonnell, Nick McCarthy, Jack Dilger.
Replacements: Stephen O’Brien, Brendan Cullinane, Mark Fallon, Dave Fanagan, Myles Carey.
LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills; Daniel McEvoy, Harry Brennan, Fergal Cleary, Adam Leavy; Scott Deasy, Charlie Rock; Ntinga Mpiko. Tyrone Moran, Ian Prendiville (capt), Josh O’Rourke, Oisin Dowling, Jack Dwan, Charlie Butterworth, Willie Earle.
Replacements: Jack Dinneen, Greg McGrath, Jack O’Sullivan, Alan Bennie, Tom Roche.