03.03.2012 1st XV v Lansdowne (A)
Lansdowne FC V St Mary’s College RFC
Ulster Bank AIL Division 1 A
3rd March 2012.
Artificial surface, real win and real joy, that is what we had today at Lansdowne Road. In fact, the surface probably suited our fast game well and the players will have been happy, except for the burned knees and elbows, many bore after the game. One disappointment with the set-up is the lack of spectator facilities, with most supporters packed along one side of the pitch, all at the same level, with uncomfortable consequences.
This was a noble win, never a dacoitage, a win engineered by patience, precision and power, the old adage of forwards being responsible for winning the game and backs for by how much, was true today and although Lansdowne were ahead 10 – 6 at half-time it was always probable that Marys would prevail, due to that extra power. Lansdowne continue to develop their young team, and although a little light in the pack, have already an impressive backline and some promising players throughout the team.
Marys own team is now coming to its acme and is adding facets each week and players to fit roles when a space or a need appears. This week, Mark Sexton was out with injury and Marcus O’Driscoll hopped up and showed his impressive credentials. Head coach, Peter Smyth, made changes and rearrangements during the game and all made an impression, Jack Mc Grath, Darren Hudson and Barry O’Flanagan had most important high impact games on introduction at half time and it was good to note young Stevie –Wonder- Toal-Lennon getting a view of AIL Division 1A, from inside the lines near the end of the game.
The pack was in top form today, with rampant rucking, strong driving and the lineouts were accurate and forceful. The scrum too, was compact and dominant and Peter and Ciaran will be happy with the response. In the pack Robert (Chops) Sweeney has to be mentioned for his high performance game, many occasions he put real pressure on the Lansdowne defence with driving runs and his overall work rate was excellent. The captain, Hugh Hogan, was also at his best, his lineout work was top class, interacting well with the highly impressive Richard Sweeney and his cleaning and scavenging were invaluable and his carries athletic; coupled with his leadership, Hugh was deserved man of the match.
Today, the backs were in orchestral mode and used the ball particularly well, with dangerous running, acute vectors from deep, and delicate distribution. On one or two occasions, the ball speed across the line did slow and was an informative contrast. Again, James Norton and Steven Hennessy will be pleased with progress. All were above reproach, but once again, Marvel Man, Phillip Brophy, was superb in every aspect of his play and added a splendid try to his contribution. Some supporters were disappointed not to get the fourth try, but really we should be very happy with the result; with Clontarf and Young Munster playing each other next and so one ending with lowered colours, it remains the case that, we have to play and beat what we have to face. And we can do that.
Blackrock will be next on 24th March, at home.
As is often the case the home team went into early high-powered attack and had territorial advantage for the first 15 minutes or so and on 9 minutes went ahead with a penalty, but on 15 minutes Gavin Dunne announced his return from injury with a matching penalty, he will be well satisfied with his return. Fortunes swayed for the next period, but Lansdowne got further ahead on 36 minutes when after two fast rucks near the Marys’ line the Lansdowne outhalf put in a fine cross kick and the 14, Aherne, caught it well and scored a converted try. The score was 10 – 3 and Gavin made it 10 – 6 with another penalty on 38 minutes. That was the half time score, 10 - 6.
The second half saw an increase in pace from Marys with subsequent territorial and possession levels. A patient build up on seven minutes brought play into the Lansdowne 22 and the ball moved smartly right to left and Phillip saw the gap, stepped his man deftly and went over for a very welcome try which put Marys ahead 10 – 13 after Gavin converted. Four minutes later, while keeping up the pressure on the Lansdowne line, the ball was moved fast left to right after hard diabrotic rucking that drew in the defence and a perfectly weighted skip ball to Conor Hogan gave him the opportunity to tap down for a try in the corner that Gavin converted beautifully and it was 10 – 20. We increased the lead on 22 minutes when Darren Hudson, who was constantly probing, took a delightful vector from his left wing outside Phillip, as the ball was going left to right and he ran through the Lansdowne cover to score smart try. With Gavin’s kick, the score went to 10 – 27.
Lansdowne continued to grapple and Carey their 12 got a good individual try on 25 minutes, 15 - 27 and a fine break by their other centre Roche, on 44 minutes, led to Mathews adding another and which brought their score to 22 – 27 with the conversion.
That was the end of the scoring and the game. A deserved win for the visitors.
Team (Rolling substitutions) 15 G Dunne, 14 C Hogan, 13 S Grissing, 12 M O’Driscoll, 11 C Lilly, 10 P Brophy, 9 M D’Arcy, 8 H Hogan (Capt), 7 G Austen, 6 D Hall, 5 G Logan, 4 S Bradshaw, 3 Robert Sweeney, 2 Richard Sweeney, 1 C Mc Mahon, J Mc Grath, D Hudson, R Brosnan, B O’Flanagan, S Toal-Lennon.