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Rugby: 'Rock climb to new high

There was no sign of a shock as Blackrock whitewashed Wesley with seven tries in what was a snow blizzard for the Leinster Schools Junior Cup quarter-final at Donnybrook on Tuesday.

Wesley had to fight their way to this stage of the competition on the back of a win over Roscrea (14-8) in the Fr Godfrey (Section B) Junior Cup that qualified them for a first-round shot at Belvedere, which they won 10-8 three weeks ago.

In fact, the qualifiers exploded into life from the kick-off, intent on keeping the ball away from 'Rock's big carriers. It worked beautifully, with runners coming from deep and full-back Philip Barrett mopping up at the back.


Of course, there would come a time when they would have to defend. They simply couldn't handle the Blackrock forwards' capacity for staying on their feet and the fast recycle that came off this facility. Quick hands across the line gave prop Ryan Murphy enough room to crash over on the left in the fifth minute.

It wasn't the end of the world for Wesley as they set about disrupting 'Rock's flow with blindside Jurgan Steinbach a menace around the fringes. However, the winners' full-back James O'Neill turned a harmless chip and chase into something special by dancing his way around the last defender for the second try in the 10th minute.

Then, the ability to offload out of the tackle by out-half Gavin Tynan and O'Neill allowed right wing Eoin Conlon to speed into the right corner for Tynan to land his first conversion.

At last Wesley began to make inroads through their centres Andrew Walsh and Rob Bracken, who both ran hard and straight, and by virtue of their work in the loose. This didn't prevent replacement Jonathan Cassidy strolling home near half-time for a 27-0 lead at the break.

Dealing with an aggressive, sturdy 'Rock pack was taking its toll before centre Stephen Lawton took the most direct route to the line in the 40th minute. Scrum-half Charlie Rock converted from the shadow of the posts.

A sweet series of passes from the Wesley backs gave lock Eric Parfrey the space to show his pace. He flew onto the ball only to lose control of it as he tried to outwit full-back O'Neill.


Gradually, Wesley established a foothold in the game, knocking down ball carriers and picking up the pieces from there. Their defence stiffened, with the likes of openside Rory White Perfrey and the workaholic Steinbach getting stuck in wherever they could.

There were also nice touches on the ball from out-half Tim Hawe as he brought his backs into the game at every opportunity. They just didn't have the penetration to make it count.

'Rock lost their way slightly in the middle of the fourth quarter before a resurgent Lawton made the yards and the pass for Conlon to clinch his second try in injury-time. It earns them a crack at either St Michael's or Castleknock in the semi-final.

SCORERS -- Blackrock College: R Murphy, E Conlon 2 tries each; J O'Neill, J Cassidy, S Lawton try each; C Rock, G Tynan con each.

Blackrock College: J O'Neill; E Conlon, I Kinsley, S Lawton, C Donnelly; G Tynan, C Rock; O Jager, D Fortune, R Murphy, G Fenn, C Murray, R Tyrrell, D O'Flynn (capt), R Crotty. Replacements: J Cassidy for Tynan 27 mins; T Cooke for Fortune 32 mins; M Colgan for Murphy, P Aylward for Tyrrell both h-t; R Hughes for Fenn 49 mins; G Ringrose for Rock 61 mins; S Coughlan for Donnelly 64 mins.

Wesley College: P Barrett; H Cresswell, R Bracken, A Walsh, K Jameson; T Hawe, A Copeland; L Gillespie, S Pollock, D Gillespie, D Hunt, E Parfrey, J Steinbach, R White, O Brooks (capt). Replacements: J Nicholl for Barrett h-t; A Verso for Brooks 50 mins; C Douglas for Hunt 58 mins; K Sweeney for Pollock, A Cole for Copeland both 64 mins; L Madeley for Hawe 63 mins; B Canning for Gillespie 68 mins.

Referee: K Beggs (Leinster Branch).