Wednesday 29 January 2020

Maturing students show composure to move into top spot

Old Belvedere's Steve Crosbie tries to stop Cork Con's Niall Kenneally in the Ulster Bank League game Photo: NPHO/James Crombie
Old Belvedere's Steve Crosbie tries to stop Cork Con's Niall Kenneally in the Ulster Bank League game Photo: NPHO/James Crombie Newsdesk Newsdesk

Dublin University have hit the dizzy heights of the top spot in Division 1A after downing Garryowen 27-14 at Dooradoyle yesterday.

The students showed composure beyond their years to see out their fourth win in five top-flight games, aided by 10 unanswered second-half points and some resolute defending late on.

David Johnston moved to full-back to cover the absence of Alex Wootton,, who played for Munster in Belfast on Friday, with Peadar Collins joining Andrew O'Byrne in the centre, and the Light Blues' pack was unchanged from the Clontarf defeat.

Dermot O'Flynn's inclusion at openside flanker was Trinity's only change, but Tony Smeeth's side had to play catch-up after leaking two early tries. Garryowen loosehead Niall Horan rumbled over in the corner and centre Collins touched down from an interception.

No 8 Tom Ryan hit back for the visitors, scoring by the posts. Jack McDermott converted and added a penalty soon after for 14-10. Second-row Pierce Dargan, who had another excellent game, then turned try scorer to move Trinity three points ahead for half-time.

Garryowen's defence gave way again when winger Colm Hogan beat a couple of would-be tacklers and scampered over for his fourth try of the campaign, converted by McDermott.

Old Belvedere fell from first to fourth in the table after Tomas Quinlan's ever-accurate left boot set up a 20-14 win for Cork Constitution at Anglesea Road. Quinlan landed five penalties, including three for a 9-0 interval lead, as Brian Hickey's charges made it two victories on the bounce, leaving them fifth, just four points off the summit.

Quinlan split the posts with a 35-metre penalty with barely a minute on the clock, Belvo struggling to gain a foothold as Con made use of possession in dangerous areas.

Winger Rob Jermyn knocked on just shy of the try-line on the quarter hour mark, but the Con scrum was making a serious impact and Belvedere were down to 14 men after winger Sean Coughlan was sin-binned for a high tackle on the rampaging Niall Kenneally.

Quinlan fired over the subsequent penalty, 24 minutes in, and despite the best defensive efforts of Karl Miller in particular, 14-man Belvo fell further behind when the visitors' young out-half landed his third penalty.

Four minutes into the second half, scrum-half Jason Higgins exploited some space in the Belvedere half and offloaded for half-time replacement Graeme Lawler to drive over the whitewash in clinical fashion.

The introduction of Simon Killeen and Leinster 'A' scrum half Charlie Rock brought some fresh impetus to Belvo's play. The dependable Quinlan answered back with another penalty 10 minutes from time, but the Dubliners continued their try search and their persistence was rewarded with a penalty try in injury-time, converted by Crosbie for a hard-earned losing bonus point.

Young Munster got back to winning ways with a fantastic four-try second-half display in seeing off UCD 37-31 at Tom Clifford Park.

The Cookies turned this game in their favour in the third quarter, tries from influential lock Alan Ross (44 minutes) and out-half Alan Tynan (53) seeing them bounce back from a 12-9 interval deficit.

Credit to UCD, despite falling to their fourth defeat in five league games, Keenan's second try collected two bonus points for the battling students.

Second-half tries from wingers Terry Kennedy and Jordan Larmour gave St Mary's College the Dublin 6W bragging rights in a tight 17-13 victory at Lakelands Park yesterday. Roared on by the large home support, Terenure College led 7-5 at half-time, a break from scrum-half Kevin O'Neill leading to the opening try from industrious flanker James O'Neill.

Entering the final quarter, Terenure were 10-5 to the good, a penalty from their goal-kicking winger Jake Swaine keeping them on course for a much-needed home win.

However, with tighthead and captain Brian McGovern to the fore, Mary's forced their second try.

Although Swaine held his nerve superbly to land a penalty for 13-12 with five minutes remaining, man-of-the-match Larmour then showed a clean pair of heels to the home defence to decide this tense encounter in Mary's favour.

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