Thursday 20 September 2018

Tarrant puts seal on 'Rock fightback after Gerard's scare

Blackrock College 19 St Gerard's 17

Michael McGagh of Blackrock College is tackled by Charles Byrne of St Gerard's School. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Michael McGagh of Blackrock College is tackled by Charles Byrne of St Gerard's School. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Des Berry

Battling St Gerard's came within a whisker of causing a sensational upset against Blackrock in this Leinster Senior Cup quarter-final at Donnybrook yesterday.

The Leinster League winners didn't play like the long-shots everyone else viewed them to be.

Harry Donnelly of Blackrock College in action against Cormac Foley of St Gerard's School. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Harry Donnelly of Blackrock College in action against Cormac Foley of St Gerard's School. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

In the first half, they ripped into Blackrock in contact to cause uncharacteristic mistakes.

It was these moments that allowed St Gerard's to build pressure, with a Cormac Foley grubber forcing full-back Stephen Madigan to concede a five-metre lineout.

From there, the Bray boys were patient in crabbing right on the back of their driving game for centre Oliver Haydock, involved twice, to ground the ball against the base of the post, converting himself for 7-0 in the 15th minute.

The 50-50 contests were being won by St Gerard's, with Ethan Baxter into everything and prop Adam O'Reilly somehow nicking the ball from a maul. They doubled their lead on the half-hour as the fundamentals of 'Rock's game were imploding - an overthrown lineout was taken at full tilt by the outstanding Baxter.

James Tarrant of Blackrock College is tackled by Daniel McGovern of St Gerard's School. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
James Tarrant of Blackrock College is tackled by Daniel McGovern of St Gerard's School. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Probing

St Gerard's were patient in their probing for centre Cormac Foley to catch the defence out by chipping over the top from eight metres out and collecting for a stunning second try for Haydock to convert.

Blackrock needed some encouragement and they found it with a brace of penalties from out-half James Tarrant either side of the break.

The erosion of the lead continued when Tarrant added a third penalty in the 42nd minute while Gerard's full-back Max O'Reilly was in the bin for a deliberate knock-on.

This was countered with typical St Gerard's tenacity to force a penalty which Haydock struck with authority to make it 17-9.

Morgan Freely of St Gerard's School is tackled by James Tarrant of Blackrock College. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Morgan Freely of St Gerard's School is tackled by James Tarrant of Blackrock College. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

It was coming down to small moments, and the 'Rock set-piece began to take control of the contest. Their lineout rolled for more than 20 metres to set up a sweep to the left where full-back Stephen Madigan strolled home.

Tarrant then converted from near the touchline to make it a one-point game in the 55th minute.

It all came down to Tarrant's cool head as he stepped back into the pocket to land a decisive drop goal in the 62nd minute.

Blackrock - S Madigan; R Madigan (G Jones 15, temp), L Turner (capt), T Maher, H Donnelly; J Tarrant, R Barron (L O'Reilly 43); H O'Malley (C Duffy 43), S Molony, T Clarkson, S O'Brien, J Stapleton, J Dixon, J Loscher, M McGagh.

Thomas Clarkson of Blackrock College is tackled by Rory Wilson of St Gerard's School. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Thomas Clarkson of Blackrock College is tackled by Rory Wilson of St Gerard's School. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

St Gerard's - M O'Reilly; P Opperman, O Haydock, C Foley, M Freeley; D O'Brien (C Diamond 62), J O'Caoimh; A O'Reilly, R Byrne, D Carroll, D Ahern (E Baxter 67), D McGovern, C Byrne, E Baxter (capt, T Cahill-Hannigan 60), R Wilson.

Ref - B McNiece (Leinster Branch)

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