SECOND-QUARTER tries by Adam Foy and Josh Hutchinson provided the catalyst for Belvedere College in Balbriggan yesterday afternoon, as the north Dublin school progressed to the quarter-final stage of the Leinster Senior Cup with a comprehensive victory over Wesley College.
BELVEDERE COLLEGE 28 WESLEY COLLEGE 3
Playing in hazardous conditions at the Fingal venue, Belvedere were always firm favourites to progress, but despite being on the back foot during their early exchanges, Wesley were frustrating their Great Denmark Street opponents with some terrific defensive work.
Indeed, after surviving an early Belvo onslaught, they were presented with an excellent opportunity to open the scoring when a knock-on by their opponents led to a place-kick from a distance of 35 metres 14 minutes in. Out-half James O'Donovan stepped up confidently to take the kick, but his strike ultimately dropped well short of the target.
As the half developed, the play from both teams was becoming rather patchy and the prospect of a scoreless opening period was looking like a real possibility. Scrum-half Foy had other ideas, though, and he displayed great tenacity to block down an attempted Wesley clearance, before touching down on the left-hand side.
This came at a vital juncture for Belvo and with fly-half Conor Jennings superbly splitting the posts from the subsequent conversion, they suddenly found themselves in the driving seat. The impressive No 10 also supplied the extras for Hutchinson's left-corner try on 34 minutes following a magnificent reverse pass by winger Sean Long, but thanks to a successful stoppage-time place-kick by Jennings, Wesley did give themselves a glimmer of hope upon the resumption.
With 11 points (14-3) separating the sides after the restart, the onus was on Wesley to take the game to their northside counterparts, but instead it was Belvo who continued to push.
The south Dublin boys did their level best to keep the Phil Werahiko-coached outfit at bay, but when full-back Sean McCullagh broke through for a magnificent 53rd minute try, the outcome was put beyond any doubt.
It was a case of damage limitation as the tie moved into its final-quarter of action and with Belvo opting to unload their bench, it was an ideal opportunity for some of the fringe players to stake a claim for a place in the starting XV.
However, it was one of their star performers who grabbed Belvedere's fourth try of the day with just seven minutes remaining, as bustling second-row Cameron McCrum powerfully drove over to the left of the posts.
Jennings had been unerringly accurate from the boot up to this point and he made no mistake with his fourth effort on goal, which helped Belvedere College to ease their way towards a much-deserved triumph.
Scorers – Belvedere College: A Foy, J Hutchinson, S McCullagh, C McCrum try each, C Jennings 4 cons. Wesley College: J O'Donovan pen.
BELVEDERE COLLEGE: S McCullagh; J McKeon, C Clifford, M White, S Long; C Jennings, A Foy; C Marrey, J Hutchinson, B Lysett; C McCrum, N Turley; J McGoran, T Keane, J Doyle. Replacements: C Peet for Doyle (38), L Browne for Marrey (53), M Sweeney for Lysett (53), R Duignan for Long (60), C Feeney for Keane (63), A Hynes for Hutchinson (65), F O'Meara for McCullagh (65), G O'Kelly for Foy (66).
WESLEY COLLEGE: A Curry; A McDonnell, D Poff, L Madeley, T Walsh; J O'Donovan, J Maybury; A Garvey, A Chandler, P Culen; S Dalby, J Pratt; K Fitzmaurice, J Hopkins, D Kelly. Replacements: M Strong for O'Donovan (40-47, blood sub), G Hughes for Madeley (40), J Brownlow for Kelly (53), S Carmody for Fitzmaurice (53).
Referee: B Montayne (Leinster Rugby Branch).
FIRST ROUND RESULTS
Castleknock Col 15 St Andrew's Col 15; Newbridge Col 14 Cistercian Col Roscrea 3;
Clongowes Wood Col 34 Kilkenny Col 15.