Lansdowne shook off the blow that could have been inflicted by the loss of long-serving coach Mike Ruddock to the Ospreys and emerged worthy bonus-point winners against a Terenure side that was simply out-classed for long periods of this highly entertaining Energia Division 1A clash.
It is a tribute to interim head coach Mark McHugh, backs coach Scott Deasy and Under 20’s forwards coach, Ben Armstrong, that the new coaching ticked stepped up to the plate seamlessly and produced a winning formula on the day to which the visitors simply couldn’t respond.
Nor was their cause made any easier by the late loss of last season’s captain and full back, Eamonn Mills, and out half Harry Byrne. So step forward and take a well-earned bow, Tom Roche and Peter Hastie, who slotted in perfectly and between them helped ensure the Lansdowne backline dominated their opponents on the day.
This was a match played in perfect conditions (even if the floodlights were turned on early!) and both sides contributed towards a high-tempo match which produced some great rugby.
In their excellent pre-match predictions, Irish Rugby suggested that the duel between Terenure winger Sam Dardis and Lansdowne’s Peter Sullivan could have a key influence on the match’s outcome.
Irish Rugby were spot-on, and Sullivan’s barnstorming display and two tries reflected the home side’s dominant performance.
Early clashes were even, with former Lansdowne and Connacht scrum half Conor McKeon making up for an earlier kick which came back off the upright to open the scoring with a penalty from virtually the same position 15 meters in from the right-hand touchline. This put his side 3-0 to the good after 10 minutes.
This was to be Terenure’s only score until the match entered second half injury time, however, when the D6 side’s admirable never-say-die attitude saw them cross for two late consolation tries.
This merely put a bit of a gloss on matters, however, as between those scores Lansdowne had racked up 46 unanswered points as the Headquarters side put together their best performance of the season to date.
Lansdowne’s opening try came from a perfectly-flighted cross kick by out half Hastie into the welcoming arms of Sheehan, who slalomed in unopposed from 20 metres out. Hastie landed the conversion from wide out with an excellent kick and Lansdowne were 7-3 ahead on 13 minutes.
With the back row of Jack Dineen, No. 8 Jack O’Sullivan and young tyro open-side Mark Hernan in full control, supported ably by the rest of the pack with Captain Jack Dwan and hooker Dan Sheehan particularly prominent, Lansdowne quickly cut loose as the backs began to prosper on a supply of good, front foot ball.
A rapid series of attacks saw tries in quick succession from Sullivan again, hooker Sheehan, centre Harry Brennan and a penalty try establish a winning lead as Lansdowne’s dominance up front continued – 4 scrum penalties won during the 80 minutes and an excellent line-out established the platform for victory.
31-3 ahead at the interval, Lansdowne kept up the momentum through further tries from prop Greg McGrath and a well taken effort by another fine young centre, Barry Goulding – his first in the AIL, while Hastie – a product of that well-known rugby bastion, East Glendalough College – chipped in with a further conversion and penalty.
With a 46-points to 3 lead established and many of the home Christmas lunch revellers already back in the bar, Lansdowne finally began to take the foot off the pedal. This enabled Terenure to salvage some pride with two late tries, one by hard-working No. 8 Eoin Joyce and the other of the penalty variety, to narrow the gap to 46-17 at the close.
In truth, however, it was Lansdowne’s day and the squad has now set its sights on entering the Christmas break with a win in Cork next Saturday against the students of UCC.
It would be nice to see you all there!
Match Report: Michael Daly
Match Details: Energia All Ireland League Division 1A Round 8: Lansdowne FC v. Terenure RFC
Venue: Aviva Stadium Back Pitch
Date: Saturday 7th December 2019
Referee: Stuart Gaffikin
Score: Lansdowne 46 Terenure 17
Scorers: Lansdowne: Tries: Harry Brennan, Dan Sheehan, Peter Sullivan 2, Greg McGrath, Barry Goulding, Penalty try; Cons: Peter Hastie 3, Pen try con; Pen: Peter Hastie
Terenure College: Tries: Eoin Joyce, Penalty try; Cons: Conor McKeon, Pen try con; Pen: Conor McKeon
HT: Lansdowne 31 Terenure College 3
LANSDOWNE: Tom Roche; Mark O’Keefe, Harry Brennan, Barry Goulding, Peter Sullivan; Peter Hastie, Tim Murphy; Martin Mulhall, Dan Sheehan, Greg McGrath, Mark Flanagan, Jack Dwan (capt), Jack Dinneen, Mark Hernan, Jack O’Sullivan.
Replacements: Jamie Kavanagh, Adam Boland, Neal Moylett, Ross Barron, Fergal Cleary.
TERENURE COLLEGE: Tim Schmidt; Sam Dardis, Adam La Grue, Robbie Deegan, Sam Coghlan Murray; James Thornton, Conor McKeon; Campbell Classen, Adam Clarkin, Liam Hyland, Mike Murphy, Michael Melia (capt), Niall O’Sullivan, Niall Lalor, Eoin Joyce.
Replacements: Robbie Smyth, Adam Tuite, Stephen Caffrey, Mark O’Neill, Jake Swaine.