Lansdowne travelled to College Park to face a Trinity side coming off the back of an impressive win away to Clontarf. Lansdowne were looking to close out 2018 with their 7th straight AIL victory.
The weather at College was typically wet, windy and dreary meaning this shaped as a game for the purists. The game would start with Trinity kicking straight out and the packs getting the opportunity to wrestle early. Lansdowne won the first scrum battle and kicked to the corner however relinquished possession. Both sides would win and then turn over possession in what would prove a very tight opening to affairs.
Standing out amongst this however was Lansdowne’s solid and highly robust defence with strong tackling, most notably from Willie Earle and Will Fay keeping the students at bay. Lansdowne started to wrestle control of the match-up based off their defensive platform with the strongest attack of the game peppered with strong carrying from Peter Sullivan, Oisin Dowling and Will Fay. Although they eventually gave up possession for sealing off at the ruck, the gauntlet had been thrown down. Pressure was also being applied at scrum time with Lansdowne firmly in the ascendency, leaving the referee no choice but to bin Trinity’s loosehead.
Lansdowne’s first try came off the back of more, great defensive effort by Tom Roche, Jack O’Sullivan and Willie Earle. Lansdowne were put in position by 10 Scott Deasy to maul deep into the Trinity 22. From the strong maul, one of many from both sides, centurion Ian Prendiville would deservedly drive over for his first try in 102 AIL appearances! This put the side 5-0 ahead with 30 minutes played in the contest.
Trinity would not go down easily and launched their strongest attack of the affair, winning a penalty in an easily kickable position from a Lansdowne high tackle. They converted the penalty leaving the score line 5-3 to Lansdowne. They would exert more pressure after this initial penalty and again forced a penalty on the half-way line however this penalty attempt fell short despite having the wind at their back, sending both teams into the break with the score line remaining 5-3 to Lansdowne.
An early scrum penalty in the 2nd half, with strong scrummaging from Messrs Coulson, Kelleher and Prendiville set the tone for the rest of the half with Lansdowne turning the screw. Following a rare scrum penalty against Lansdowne in front of their own posts Trinity were able to sneak ahead with a penalty, leaving the score at 6-5 to the home side. Lansdowne’s physicality and the impact of the team’s replacements, Greg McGrath and Tom Murphy replacing Denis Coulson & Aaron Conneely respectively. Conneely can be satisfied after another industrious performance on the openside flank. His replacement Tom Murphy would provide much impact with some telling collisions.
The halfbacks also changed midway through the 2nd half with Harry Byrne replacing Scott Deasy and Alan Bennie replacing Tim Murphy. After pressuring the Trinity line out, Lansdowne found themselves only a matter of metres from the Trinity try line and after numerous pick and drives close to the line, Alan Bennie dived over to give Lansdowne the lead 12-6 with Byrne converting in very difficult conditions.
Lansdowne, firmly in control of the contest were still being harried by a plucky Trinity side though they were unable to gain much momentum with great defence from the whole squad including backs Mark O’Keefe and Harry Brennan and strong clearing kicks from captain Eamonn Mills when Trinity misplaced theirs. Even when stalwart Willie Earle was sent to the bin for a high tackle, Lansdowne still defended admirably and stifled any comeback attempts by their opponents.
The pressure finally told with Lansdowne again attaining great field position and driving over with Will Fay emerging from the deck with ball in tow, capping off an impressive performance and sealing a 17-6 victory despite late pressure from Trinity. James Rael joined the game late on to see his side home and Lansdowne go into 2019 sitting at 2nd in the table, trailing Cork Con by just 5 points.
Match Report: Ciaran Mylod
Match Details: Ulster Bank AIL Division 1A Round 9: Dublin University FC v. Lansdowne FC
Venue: College Park
Date: Saturday, 15th December 2018, k.o. 2:30pm
Referee: Robert O’Sullivan
Score: Dublin University (3) 6 Lansdowne (5) 17
Scorers: Dublin University: Pens: James Fennelly 2
Lansdowne: Tries: Ian Prendiville, Willie Fay, Alan Bennie; Con: Harry Byrne
HT: Dublin University 3 Lansdowne 5
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Michael Silvester; Liam Turner, Jack Kelly, James Hickey, Colm Hogan (capt); James Fennelly, Rowan Osborne; Donnacha Mescal, Dan Sheehan, Thomas Clarkson, Arthur Greene, Jack Dunne, Johnny McKeown, Max Kearney, Niall O’Riordan.
Replacements: Joe Horan, Dylan Doyle, Reuben Pim, Conor Lowndes, Philip Murphy.
LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills (capt); Mark O’Keeffe, Harry Brennan, Tom Roche, Peter Sullivan; Scott Deasy, Tim Murphy; Denis Coulson, Ronan Kelleher, Ian Prendiville, Oisin Dowling, Willie Earle, Jack O’Sullivan, Aaron Conneely, Willie Fay.
Replacements: James Rael, Greg McGrath, Tom Murphy, Alan Bennie, Harry Byrne.