Round 3 of the Energia-sponsored All Ireland League saw an unbeaten Trinity side travel to the Aviva to take on a Lansdowne side which showed 6 changes from the side which went down to Clontarf in the last round.
Up front, Tadgh McElroy came in a hooker, Ben Popplewell started at loose head while Letterkenny man out of Queen’s University, Conor McMenamin, took over from the injured Ruairi Clarke in the Row. Peter Hastie and Andy Marks came in for their first starts of the season while Cillian Redmond earned a call up on the left wing.
A swirling and unpredictable breeze gusted throughout but both sides endeavoured to play an open brand of rugby.
The Students opened brightly, an attack down the left from the kick-off return saw No. 8 Ruadhan Byron link with 9 Louis O’Reilly and 6 Diarmuid McCormack deep into the home ’22. This resulted in Lansdowne conceding a penalty 15 metres out from their line.
Out half Aran Egan did the necessary, as he did again in the 4th minute when Lansdowne again transgressed, this time 25 metres out from their posts.
0-6 after less than 5 minutes wasn’t exactly an ideal start, but the Headquarters side responded well. Their first attacking period lasted several minutes and embraced over 20 phases, only for a knock-on to spoil their good work.
Undaunted, Lansdowne forced a free kick and ran the ball to the Trinity line. Several attack phases followed until McElroy, with Leinster on a short-term contract, burrowed his way over 10 metres to the right of the posts.
Peter Hastie converted, and Lansdowne were in the lead, 7-6 after 14 minutes.
The lead didn’t last long, however. The restart was botched – by no means for the first time this season – enabling the Students to recover possession on the home ’22. Two defenders converged to take down a Trinity attacker and second row Max Dunne (younger brother of Leinster and Emerging Ireland’s Jack) couldn’t believe his luck as the ball broke to him.
He duly took advantage of his good fortune to romp over the line for a soft try. Egan added the extras to put Dublin University back in front, 7-13.
Lansdowne were awarded their first penalty of the match after 18 minutes. A subsequent penalty line out in the 25th minute saw the ball mauled towards the visitors’ line, but possession was turned over.
Lansdowne continued to press but were reduced to 14 men in the 26th minute when tight head Temi Lasisi was yellow-carded after a seemingly interminable consultation between the referee and his touch judge.
The reduction in numbers didn’t appear to have much effect on the Lansdowne pack, where captain Clive Ross (as always) was to the fore, aided by the industrious McElroy and No. 8 Donough Lawlor.
Peter Hastie reduced the margin with a penalty in the 32nd minute and a series of stoppages in play ensured that the 10 minutes with 14 men was actually won, 3-0.
Powerful winger Peter Sullivan initiated a line-break in the 4th minute of first half injury time to pass inside to Andy Marks, who had looked lively in possession. Marks took the ball up-field at pace and drew the last defender, sending Kiwi scrum half Michael Walsh over beneath the posts.
Peter Hastie converted and Lansdowne found themselves, somewhat fortuitously, ahead at the break by 17 points to 13.
Unfortunately, the home side were unable to build on that first half platform, and the second period mostly belonged to the Students.
Indeed, Lansdowne were held scoreless during the second half – several good attacking chances went astray due to handling errors and prevented the build up of all-important momentum.
Home attacks were all to sporadic as the forwards lost traction against a Student eight which grew in confidence as the game progressed. They were aided significantly by the arrival onto the pitch of Leinster tight head Thomas Clarkson, who added considerable ballast to their efforts.
Following two penalties in a row in quick succession, Trinity tapped the second one on the home 5 metre line and the lively Dunne was again on hand to wriggle his way over for his second try of the match which was converted by Egan to put his side ahead again, 17-20.
Lansdowne will be disappointed with the manner in which they fell away during the middle of the second half, in particular. The consolation of a losing bonus point was denied them by the impressive Clarkson, who plunged over the 76th minute to seal the win for his side.
Egan again converted for a personal 12-point tally. He and full back Collie Hogan were the pick of the Trinity backs, while young Sam Burns made a nice cameo appearance off the home bench for Lansdowne.
At the pre-match lunch Trinity President John Coulter marked the occasion of the Lansdowne 150th by presenting a framed picture depicting the two clubs’ badges and the list of the 11 players who have captained both clubs since George Scriven in 1878-79.
A wonderful piece of Rugby History marking the strong historical links between the two Clubs which I look forward to seeing adorn the Lansdowne Clubhouse wall in the near future.
Match Report: Michael Daly
Match Details: ENERGIA MEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE, Round 3, DIVISION 1A
LANSDOWNE 17 DUBLIN UNIVERSITY 27, Aviva Stadium back pitch
Scorers: Lansdowne: Tries: Tadgh McElroy, Mike Walsh; Cons: Peter Hastie 2; Pen: Peter Hastie
Dublin University: Tries: Max Dunne 2, Thomas Clarkson; Cons: Aran Egan 3; Pens: Aran Egan 2
HT: Lansdowne 17 Dublin University 13.
LANSDOWNE: Michael Silvester; Peter Sullivan, Andy Marks, Conall Doherty, Cillian Redmond; Peter Hastie, Mike Walsh; Ben Popplewell, Tadgh McElroy, Temi Lasisi, Dan Murphy, Conor McMenamin, Joey Szpara, Clive Ross (capt), Donough Lawlor.
Replacements: Luke Thompson, Frank Kavanagh, Liam Forster, Jack Connolly, Charlie Tector, Sam Burns.
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Colm Hogan; James Dillon, Louis McDonough, Gavin Jones, Liam McMahon; Aran Egan, Louis O’Reilly (capt); Paddy McCarthy, Lee Barron, Thomas Connolly, Max Dunne, Harry Sheridan, Diarmuid McCormack, Ruadhan Byron, Aaron Coleman.
Replacements: Mark Nicholson, Thomas Clarkson, Stephen Woods, Sean McCrohan, Cormac King, Hugh O’Kennedy.