16.03.2013 1st XV v Lansdowne (A)
Lansdowne FC V St Mary’s College RFC
AIL Division 1 A
Saturday 16th March 2013-03-17
Patent surface stiff and bouncy,
Allows for froth and moves all flouncy,
No mauls or grind on grass and muck,
Great dictate here is Lady Luck.
I left the warmth of the Lansdowne clubhouse, as Devin Toner was doing a commendable imitation of Devon Loch and faced the real sleet and hail on the artificial surface. The green dyed surface was smeared white by a shower that lasted over 30 minutes, into which both teams had to play. Therefore, for the first half hour there were understandably, on sides, many spillages and slippages. It would indeed be ungracious not to acknowledge that Lansdowne have a fine, well coached and alacritous team, that deserved their handsome, win. I had observed the potential two seasons ago and thanks to astute recruitment, development and an admirable coach and congenial gentleman, in Mike Ruddock, a callow team has metamorphosed into a proficient unit. They will be worthy successors to St Marys, we congratulate them on their merited success; and we will of course hope that we are merely lending the AIL trophy to them for a season.
The difference in scores, however, does not indicate remotely accurately the insubstantial difference in the sides. Marys showed much skill and endeavour and were only out shone in forward muscle and knowledge of the playing surface. It was clear that the style adopted by the home has become inextricably interwoven into the playing environment. The power of the Lansdowne pack was substantial and expressed itself by a strong maul, stable scrum, their offloading was also effective, and their kicking suited to the conditions. They have adapted well to grip and shove on the surface. Their four tries were forward generated and that itself relates a story.
Hugh Hogan and his colleagues are likewise developing a squad and a system, which is evolving, and the position of the team equates to the predicted one of the coaches at the beginning of the campaign. There is now a sprightly spirited and talented group, with strong potential.
Losing Conor Hogan during the week to a dislocated shoulder was a severe blow, and was compounded by losing influential scrumhalf, Matthew D’Arcy, half way through the first half. The young players coming into the team, such as Matt’s replacement Robbie Glynn and Number Eight, Mark Fallon, however, are making significant progress and the overall team development is impressive. The use of the rolling substitutions was notable today brought best use out of the squad.
Now next week Marys face resurgent Shannon at Templeville Road and we will go into it confident but careful.
Playing on the weekend of Six Nations’ action, although necessary, is not an ideal situation for players or supporters and trying to fit it in between the Irish game and the decider in Wales made it difficult. As I mentioned, the Lansdowne team have a hefty and well-coached pack and competent backs. There was parity of play for most of the first half; indeed Marys put the first score on the board when Gavin Dunne converted a difficult penalty after ten minutes.
A series of attacks by Lansdowne on 22 minutes, ended with a scrum and when it had to be reset twice the referee awarded a penalty try and the score became 7 – 3. Their impressive outhalf Ronaldson made the score 10 – 3 with a penalty on 33 minutes and another on 37 minutes brought it to 13 – 3. Gavin closed the half with a penalty and so it was 13 – 6 and all for which to play.
The second half saw an increase in tempo by the home side and after only one minute having got the better grip on the surface they marched over for a try out wide to bring the score to 18 – 6. After nine minutes, Ronaldson made it 21 – 6, on 35 minutes another converted forward try made it 28 – 6; and finally they secured a bonus point converted try on 40 minutes. The game ended 35 – 6.
The Team (Rolling substitutions)
15 G Dunne, 14 S Toal-Lennon, 13 M O’Driscoll, 12 R Hudson, 11 D Fanning, 10 P Brophy, 9 M D’Arcy, 8 M Fallon, 7 G Austen, 6 K Sheahan, 5 C Ruddock, 4 S Bradshaw, 3 Rob Sweeney(Capt), 2 D Fawcett, 1 J Mc Grath, A Lyons C Mc Mahon, G Sexton, R Glynn, A Bourke.