Lansdowne U17s headed into the final game of their Leinster qualifying campaign with 5 wins from 5 and so did their hosts, Wicklow RFC.
Wicklow RFC is located on a hillside overlooking Wicklow town and beyond that there is a magnificent view right down to the sea. Despite the previous day’s weather the morning gave way to a beautiful day for rugby.
Wicklow got proceedings underway and kicked deep into the Lansdowne 22. The ball was gathered by Jonathan Atkinson and the Lansdowne pack supported and went through a number of phases until the ball was slipped to the right of the pack and JJ Hession broke through the Wicklow cover to sprint all of 50 yards to touch down under the posts. Converted by Geoff Larkin, Lansdowne were 7-0 up after two minutes. A great start.
No sooner had the game restarted than Lansdowne again struck for the Wicklow line. Matthew O’Farrell and John Duffy secured a turnover ball and a quick offload by JJ Hession to Harry Stone opened a gap for Stone to outpace two Wicklow players and touch down under the posts. Larkin converted to make it 14-0.
Just 5 minutes later Stone grounded his second of the day but Larkin’s touch line conversion went just wide of the post. Lansdowne 19-0.
The next phase of the game saw Wicklow camped in the Lansdowne red zone. This was the turning point of the game as not only did Wicklow fail to score but Lansdowne turned over the ball, moved up the pitch and after a number of phases, David Hale, the Lansdowne scrum half, touched down. Again, the conversion drifted just wide. Lansdowne 24-0.
Wicklow took advantage of a number of Lansdowne offsides and deservedly scored their opening try on the 29th minute. They failed to score the conversion. Lansdowne 24-5.
With three minutes to half time Lansdowne were pressing hard on the Wicklow line and the pressure was rewarded with a penalty. To take the team into the dressing room with the last score, Oscar O’Brien, the Lansdowne captain, pointed towards the posts. Larkin took the three points on offer and Lansdowne took a 27-5 lead into the half time break.
In the second half, Lansdowne took up where they left off and centre, Jack Browne broke several tackles to score. Conversion was missed. Lansdowne 32-5.
Five minutes later second row Michael Whelan scored directly under the Lansdowne posts and Larkin made it 39-5.
Noe Broutin also put his name on the scoreboard and gave Eaun Lacey the easiest of conversions. This stretched the score out to 44-5.
Wicklow finished the game with a flourish with two tries in the last 7 minutes and brought the score up to 44-15.