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A 'Bridge 'Rock can cross

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RIGHT from the start of the season, Blackrock and St Michael's were billed as 'the two most likely' and when 'Rock took care of their neighbours, the path was clearer for them.

Newbridge College v Blackrock College, Sunday, Donnybrook 3.0

 

Coach Peter Smyth is waiting on the fitness of his second row Jack Dwan to bolster an already powerful front eight, with Nick Timoney and David O'Connor vital elements.

The problem for the defending champions is that the Leinster Senior League winners Newbridge, coached by Leinster hooker Aaron Dundon, bring unpredictability and brilliance in equal measure. They can blow hot and cold.

For instance, they were laboured in the League semi-final against St Andrew's (17-13) and liberated (43-10) against Roscrea in the final.

They have not caught fire in the first two rounds of the Senior Cup, squeezing the same Roscrea 14-3 and St Mary's 17-10 in the quarter-final.

This is not to say that they won't here. They have a host of players back from last year and two first-class fly-halfs in Mark Sutton and Jimmy O'Brien.

How they use these two will be key to their success.

Verdict: Blackrock

Clongowes Wood College v St Andrew's College, Tuesday, Donnybrook 4.0

Ireland Schools coach Noel McNamara has made a habit out of drawing the very best from his boys.

Clongowes steamrolled Kilkenny in the first round on a bad day for rugby out in Maynooth where the ice-cold and heavy pitch had to be mastered.

They were better for the experience in the quarter-final 26-14 win over Belvedere when their physically imposing backline was marshalled superbly by out-half Fergal Cleary, the Ireland Schools centre.

St Andrew's are the surprise packets this year, taking out Castleknock 13-9 in a first-round replay and making it to the final four by destroying Gonzaga 47-3 in which fly-half Jack Balbirnie was their go-to boy.

Verdict: Clongowes Wood


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