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Lansdowne v Old Wesley J1 METROPOLITAN CUP first round fixture 10/02/2023 20-0

To begin this week’s report, I would just like to update you from the last match report in which I referred to an upcoming league fixture versus St Mary’s at home. That fixture did not in fact take place as the win was conceded by the opposition and as a result we were awarded a further five points to add to our existing league points putting us on 49 points with two fixtures remaining in the league campaign.

That result has almost ensured that we will finish in the top two in the league and thus qualify for the league final. The other results in the division meant that the second placed team has changed and Old Wesley have replaced Terenure for the moment in second place on 42 points seven behind ourselves as leaders. However, there are two fixtures to play and perhaps three teams still with a chance of finishing in the top 2 along with us. Our next league game is away to Dublin University in College Park on Sunday the 19th of February and a positive result for us in that fixture will ensure us topping the division and having a home league final at a date to be arranged.

With that out of the way, I turn to the first round of the metropolitan cup which was played on Friday night under lights in Donnybrook against Old Wesley. The J1 selection for this match was strong and we played with the assistance of a significant breeze in the first half. They say that the sign of a good team it is one that wins games when not playing to their full ability and that is probably a good way to describe this match.

The first half was very much one where we had territorial dominance and with some astute kicking from out half Stephen Madigan, we maintained a high level of pressure on the home side without breaking through their try line. That said two penalty goals from the said Stephen Madigan, kept the scoreboard ticking over and gave the team momentum in navigating through this game. For me, the first half was forgettable as, for a change, our lineout malfunctioned in some promising positions and possession was turned over allowing the home side to clear their lines when under pressure to concede a score.

There was noticeable showings in the first half from Thomas Monaghan and Matt Grogan who, as centres, both individually and as a unit, tried hard to breach the Old Wesley goal line, only to be stopped by a good defense and some wrong options taken when scores seemed likely. The scrums were evenly contested, but a lot of the play in the half was scrappy and typical of an edgy hard fought cup game between two rivals who are at the top of the league division.

The second half proved to be different, with the home side having the wind at their backs allowing them to gain good field position by long probing kicks using the elements to their advantage. The Lansdowne defence really started to work and was absolutely outstanding throughout the 40 minutes duration of the second half. There were many occasions where the home team was knocking at the door but ran into a stonewall defence with the tackling exemplary and the use of the jackal steal to turn over the ball and clear was of the highest standard.

The line out started to work better, as did the scrum, and as a result, the team was able to play on the counterattack with the home side having a lot of possession but not really making much use of it due to the heroic defence and organization of this very well drilled and coached team.

Full back Sam Burns showed a bit of magic after a Lansdowne breakout and with a lot to do from outside the 22metre line broke two tackles and evaded some other defenders to score after 15 minutes of the second-half. The extras were added by Madigan and the scoreline moved to 13 points to nil giving us some breathing space. The pattern continued with the home side continuing to try to attack to reduce the scoreline and they showed a lot of fight in trying to keep the game close. However, with 15 minutes to play after some fine interactive play between several of the Lansdowne players the crucial score of the game was achieved. It came from a counter attack up the middle which broke through the home defence and with the ball passing through hands, it was left to Liam Forster to outrun the pursuers and touchdown under the post for the best try of the game which had the spectators in the stand on their feet.

This score proved crucial and Madigan added the extras leaving the scoreline at 20 points to nil with time running out for the home side. To their credit, they continued to try to score and exerted a lot of pressure on the Lansdowne goal line. Again, as I have said, the skill of the defence and will of the players too shut out Old Wesley meant that the line stayed intact and the scoreline remained unchanged.

This was a very hard-fought win but will give this Lansdowne team great confidence moving forward in this competition with their quarterfinal opponent to be UCD at home at the end of February. Special mention for the performances of the said Sam Burns. as well as Liam Forster. the tryscorers. but for the writer the man of the match goes to the Lansdowne combined team defence which was exceptional and is the reason why throughout the season they have conceded less points than any other team at this level.

Finally, attention now turns back to the league and the next fixture which as previously pointed out in this report is away to Dublin University on Sunday the 19th of February next. This team winning streak continues and as long as injuries are prevented the signs are good to pick up a trophy in the 150th year for the club.

 

Match Report John Kilroy 

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