Gonzaga College 22 Blackrock College 21
Gonzaga struck for two tries in the last three minutes to cause a seismic shock, beating Blackrock for the first time in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup at Energia Park in Dublin yesterday.
These two got straight down to business, Gonzaga prop George Morris carrying hard and Blackrock No 8 Aaron Rowan swooping to force a penalty which Tom Gavigan smacked through in the third minute.
The Williamstown school settled the better, James Culhane grabbing a Gonzaga garryowen and out-half Gavigan tickling a kick deep inside the 22.
Gavigan glanced his next penalty back off the left post, but there would be no such charity when Gonzaga next infringed, Gavigan taking the three-points this time.
At last, there was life on the other side of halfway for last year's finalists and they nearly turned it into gold when centre Jack Browne made a half-break, just missing the connection to left-wing Simon Wilson.
They took heart from that surge, Wilson countering with pace and hooker George Kenny straightening the attack.
The search for continuity was stymied by the alert poaching of Rowan for 'Rock and 'Zaga captain Tom Cullen before Jack Colbert just about got to grips with Scott Barron.
A 20-metre maul from Blackrock was thwarted close to the line. When they next came calling, the maul was used as a decoy to tie in Cullen, the ball released for centre Sam Small to find Tom Henderson on his inside for a beautifully crafted try, converted by Gavigan for 13-0 in the 29th minute.
Gonzaga were given a reprieve when Harry Colbert split the posts before Gavigan made good on Matthew Cullen's snipe with his third penalty for 16-3 at the break.
The Sandford Road school had to strike quickly and they did just that when Simon Wilson took Colbert's crossfield kick at top speed to make a game of it, Colbert's conversion closing the gap to 16-10 in the 39th minute.
There was a frantic period of play in which neither team could establish domination, Blackrock hooker Charlie O'Carroll galloping up the touchline, Colbert called back for a knock-down when rounding the defence from deep.
The want of Ben Brownlee to recover Gavigan's chip was the spark that propelled Blackrock forward, wing John Francis Campbell seeing and taking the gap for Rock's second try in the 59th minute.
Gonzaga were not done, Wilson streaking clear again to go close, not once, but twice. But Brownlee came to the rescue twice, stripping the ball in contact and snuffing out another dangerous attack with a turnover.
With time running out, the best move of the match almost put Noah Maguire over under the sticks, the recycle coming quickly enough for Hugh Lynn to make the right corner.
Suddenly, Gonzaga were rampant, eating up the ground through the middle, Lynn staying composed on the ball, the cavalry arriving to send the ball left for Wilson to hold onto Colbert's pass to make it a one-point game.
Colbert steadied, stood up and struck the conversion to seal it.
Scorers - Gonzaga: Tries: S Wilson 2, H Lynn. Pen: H Colbert Cons: Colbert 2. Blackrock College: Tries: T Henderson, JF Campbell. Pens: T Gavigan 3. Con: T Gavigan.
BLACKROCK: S Murray; T Henderson (J Kenny 47), S Small, B Brownlee, J-F Campbell; T Gavigan (M Moloney 69), M Cullen (T Quinn 69); S Barron (L Heylin 69), C O'Carroll (P McCarthy 69), H O'Malley (H Maguire 47), M Morrissey (capt), A Simpson (J Byrne 63), J Culhane, M Wood, A Rowan.
GONZAGA: J McNulty; H Lynn, B Barron, J Browne (D Colbert 47), S Wilson; H Colbert, E O'Callaghan (M Colgan 50); G Morris (N Maguire 60), G Kenny, R Shaw, S Carroll, S O'Connell, A Henry, T Cullen (capt), H Fitzgerald.
REF - P Hancock (Leinster).