Ruddock praises pack as Lansdowne take control
LANSDOWNE confirmed their status as the team to beat in Division 1A with a comprehensive success over their nearest rivals at Dooradoyle.
Everything suggested that this could be a very tight game. But it was all but over as a contest after Lansdowne, playing into the wind, dominated the opening half to lead 18-0 at the break.
Just about the only consolation for Garryowen was that they denied Lansdowne a bonus point. Otherwise, nothing went right for an out-of-sorts Garryowen side who now trail the league leaders by four points.
"Unfortunately, we weren't at the races. Lansdowne came out of the traps and absolutely set the foundations for the full 80 minutes. We simply had no answer on the day," admitted Garryowen coach Tom Tierney.
"Credit to Lansdowne, they are rightly favourites for the league. For us, it's just a case of taking it on the chin and responding with a positive performance against Cork Con next weekend."
What made Lansdowne's display so impressive was the fact that they managed to adapt to the wet and windy conditions so well. They relied to a great extent on their pack and half-backs John Cooney and Craig Ronaldson.
Consequently, it didn't really matter that they were missing some of their outside backs. Their pack retained possession superbly, allowing the highly impressive Cooney at scrum-half to dictate the pattern of the game.
The work of the Lansdowne forwards and Cooney set up two well-taken first-half tries from left- wing Rob McCarthy and full-back Ross McCarron. Ronaldson converted one of them and also landed two penalties to give Lansdowne their 18-0 interval advantage.
Although Lansdowne continued to dominate in the second half, they had to settle for just one more try from their No 8 Ron Boucher. While a bonus point for a fourth try would have completed a perfect day, the Lansdowne coach Mike Ruddock wasn't about to complain.
"I thought our forwards were magnificent, they carried the ball really well. It wasn't a day for running rugby, it was a day for control and defence.
"With the weather we were always going to go that way. Our ball-retention was fantastic in the conditions. But we are not getting carried away. Nothing is won in January, it's only the halfway stage."
Garryowen – R O'Mahony; L Bourke, C Hircock, C Doyle (capt), C O'Shea; G Ryan, N Cronin; R Brosnan, James Rael, J P Cooney, A Kennedy, A McCloskey, C Hartigan, A Kavanagh, T J Anderson. Replacements: D Rowley, P O'Shea, M Melbourne, M Hanrahan, J McInerney.
Lansdowne – R McCarron (capt); F Doherty, M Roche, G Stafford, R McCarthy; C Ronaldson, J Cooney; J O'Connell, T Sexton, M Moore, W Earl, M Feely, C Butterworth, C Ross, R Boucher. Replacements: S Collins, R Liddington, P O'Driscoll, S Kelly, D Mannion.
Ref – A Rolland