For many people attending this Leinster rugby season-opener, it was not so much the fact that it pitted two old foes against each other, it was the simple pleasure in being able to watch a game of rugby. As is the norm with season-openers, the ring rustiness of the players is all too evident. Throw in the long Covid-19 lay-off and it was no wonder that passes went askew, more knock-ons that normal and line outs not on target. No one cared a whit. Rugby was back and we just basked in the warm embrace of the setting sun on Merrion Road and watched two teams go hard at it; no quarter given and it was as expected, Wanderers playing at home and standing tall and proud in defence of their home patch.
With Lansdowne playing in Division 1A and Wanderers in Division 2B of the Energia All Ireland League, you’d have expected Lansdowne to come out of the blocks but this wasn’t the case. In fairness to Wanderers, they took the game to Lansdowne and contested line outs and breakdowns with intensity and purpose. Lansdowne drew first blood but failed to convert. Wanderers pulled the score back to 3-5 with a penalty and interestingly, despite threatening the Lansdowne line on several occasions, this was to be their last score of the game. Mark McHugh and his coaching team, will have been satisfied with the defensive aspect of their team’s performance.
Some neat interplay and quick hands saw Sean Galvin touch down in the corner to make it 3-10. Hastie failed to convert. On the stroke of half time, a cross field kick by Peter Hastie was gathered superbly by wing Liam O’Sullivan who offloaded with a backdoor pass to full back Eamon Mills who touched down for the try of the game. Lansdowne entered the break 3-15.
In the second half, Wanderers showed they were made of stern stuff and continued to contest and fight for every inch. Despite their dominance, Lansdowne failed to capitalise on territory and possession. It wasn’t until the 75th min, that captain Jack O’Sullivan stole a Wanderers lineout and some quick hands by Peter Hastie and Sean Galvin saw Hastie touch down, convert his own try and stretch the score to 3-22. The game was closed out with one last try and the score finished 3-27 to the visitors.
One of the biggest talking points at every season opener in every club is looking to the new faces and those players lacing up their boots for their 1st XV debut appearance. Lansdowne had no fewer than 7 new players:
- Frank Kavanagh
- Luke Thompson
- Jack Barry
- Corey Reid
- Michael Fitzpatrick
- Jack Matthews
- Shane Hourihane
We wish both squads all the best in the season ahead and it’s right and fitting to thank both teams for giving us the opportunity, once again, to gather and watch committed amateurs giving their all for the game of rugby.