Dazzling Dardis leads 'Nure into last eight
Terenure 24-11 St Mary's
To Terenure the Dublin 6 bragging rights but much more importantly with it a precious place in the quarter-finals.
In front of a big attendance in near perfect conditions at Donnybrook these great south city rivals served up a tie befitting the proud rugby tradition each school represents.
In the end the victory went where it was most deserved. Yes, for long periods Mary’s shaded it territorially and at times too in terms of possession but seldom did they threaten to unlock the really well organised Terenure defence in which centre Ted O’Donoghue was the catalyst.
Indeed if one were to be hypercritical of the Rathmines school’s attack on this occasion it would be in terms of operating too far short of the gain-line when passing, thereby making the Terenure drift defence so much easier.
By comparison the purple black and white passing and/or offloading was much closer the Mary’s defensive line, with Sam Dardis – a near replica of brother Billy – a constant threat when hitting the line flat and at pace.
They had too in Zak Vaughan a powerful and potent finisher with a healthy appetite for involvement way beyond his numbered shirt wide on the left.
Add in an extremely competitive forward unit at the breakdown and all the essential ingredients for hitting hard on the counter were in place.
Mary’s for their part had in workaholic second-row Ronan Waters the outstanding forward on the field, with flanker Faolan Crowe and loosehead Niall McNiff not far behind.
The game had opened at a frenetic pace, with the electric Dardis somehow losing possession with the tryline at his mercy.
That came in the fourth minute, but with the penalty already awarded Mark Fabian struck his kick straight and true for an early three point lead.
A long period of territorial domination followed, with St Mary’s deservedly edging in front on the back of two sweetly struck Alexi Schuster penalties in the 30th and 35th minutes, the second almost on the stroke of half-time from fully 40 metres.
With Fabian narrowly missing the last kick of the first half, Mary’s 6-3 lead was an accurate reflection of play to that point.
But just five minutes into the second half the game was turned on its head when a clever cut-out pass from Mark Kirwan to Vaughan sent the left winger in at the corner for the opening try of the game. Fabian landed the extras with a magnificent conversion from the sideline.
Mary’s began to put greater width on their passing but again with little effect on the tight ’Nure defence save for the odd burst from McNiff or skipper and lock Niall Curran.
O’Donoghue was particularly conspicuous in terms of thieving possession.
Then coming up to the hour mark by way of a little bit of luck, when the ball bounced back into his hands from a pass intended for Vaughan, Dardis weaved a typical magical spell when racing in with a series of trademark side-steps to dot down under the Mary’s posts. Fabian converted for a 17-6 lead.
To their immense credit Mary’s bounced back immediately on 64mins when replacement Tom Tierney crossed following a driving maul to narrow the gap to six points.
But with time running out Vaughan sealed the deal with his second try of the afternoon following another incision and timely offload from the hugely impressive Dardis when feeding off a classy break by Stevie Barry.
To the ’Nure the victory and with it local bragging rights richly deserved.
Terenure – S Dardis; C Collins (C Ashmore 70), S Barry, T O’Donoghue (A LaGrue 57), Z Vaughan; M Kirwan, M Fabian (C Cahill 70); J Boyden (S Patchell 70), J Henry-Hayes (H O’Neill 70), S Collins; R Byrne (J O’Hare 49), A Melia; J Clarkin (R McGrath 70), J Dignam (Capt), C O’Sullivan (J Long 58).
St Mary’s – C Buckley; P Fitzgerald, C Kennedy, A Schuster, B McCann; D Boyle, D O’Connor (D McDonagh 67); N McNiff, R Bergin, M McCormack; R Waters, N Curran (capt); A McDermott (T Tierney 60), F Crowe, R Foley.
Ref – N Correll (ARLB)