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Mary's have clinical edge

ST MARY'S COLLEGE 17

CISTERCIAN COLLEGE ROSCREA 12

If St Mary's College got everything their own way in the first round, they struggled to find their way, at times, in a superb Leinster Schools Senior Cup quarter-final at Lakeland's Park yesterday.

Cistercian Roscrea came into this one somewhere beneath the radar as they were less than impressive in their 16-13 decision over CBC Monkstown in their first round encounter. There was plenty of room for improvement, if they had it in them.

Their forward pack, led by captain Ross Farrell and Leinster U18 Schools lock Brian Moylett, were more than a match for their opponents. But, they struggled to turn their territorial superiority into points, eventually bowing out St Mary's College's clinical use of limited ball.



DAMAGING

The psychological effect of pressure without points can be very damaging, as Roscrea found out when they were rocked by the swift, easy-on-the-eye countering of St Mary's. Centre Harry Norton shot down the right for his captain Maurice Walsh to claim his fifth try in two matches.

It was a reflection of the trend of the game as Roscrea returned to own the ball without being able to pierce a well-organised St Mary's defence in which number eight Mark Fallon and centres Walsh and Norton were outstanding.

Still, centre Tadhg Leader struck the first of his four penalties in the 25th minute, his second effort of the afternoon.

Then, Fallon hammered onto a short ball from out-half Conor Hogan to travel ten metres through two tackles for a try that owed everything to his bulk and determination. Hogan's conversion made it 12-3 at the break.

When Leinster U18 Schools lock Liam Curran was called ashore near the end of the first-half it moved all the lineout pressure onto the broad shoulders of Jerry Sexton, the younger, if bigger, brother of Jonathan. He reacted superbly, using his bulk to beat his opponents in the air.

Still, it got interesting when centre Leader stroked over his second and third in the in the 37th and 45th minutes as St Mary's paid the price for spending too much time in their own half.

Just as a shock seemed possible, the winners scrum-half David Fanagan slid a lovely grubber down the blindside for left wing Eoin Moriarty to collect on-the-hop. It was this facility for striking in the moment most needed that ultimately made all the difference.

It looked like the killer blow. However, Leader landed a monster penalty from the left and pulled another when his footing gave way as the Roscrea boys played their hearts out in pursuit of a try that never came.

St Mary's coach Rodney O'Donnell will be satisfied with a serious workout that will do much to make his players battle-hardened for the challenges ahead. The St Mary's defence was sorely tested without ever wilting. O'Donnell would surely have been an eagle eyed spectator at the Clongowes Wood-Kilkenny quarter-final played at Templeville Road this afternoon. It is one of these which will stand in his path to the final.

SCORERS -- St Mary's College: M Walsh, E Moriarty, M Fallon try each; C Hogan con. Cistercian Roscrea: T Leader 4 pens.

St Mary's College: D O'Halloran; E Farrell (H McGovern 74), H Norton, M Walsh (capt), E Moriarty; C Hogan, D Fanagan; G Gallivan (G Hennessy 52), D Drumm, S Kearney, J Sexton, L Curran (P Doran 23), S O'Carroll (A Martin 74), K Barnwell, M Fallon.

Cistercian College, Roscrea: P O'Dwyer; S Kelly, T Leader, C Finn, K O'Connell (45); B Duggan (C Dever 58), R Durcan; M Murray, D O'Dwyer, C Farrell (S Moran 53), C Moloney, B Moylett, D Egan, J Murphy, R Farrell (capt).

Referee: K Beggs, Leinster Branch.


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