David J. Fanagan
The 62nd annual Colours match was played last Friday in front of a noticeably vocal crowd at Donnybrook stadium, with the spoils going to UCD in a tightly fought 19-12 scoreline after a truly end-to-end game. By nature, the colours match is a unique fixture steeped in history which always provides a great display of running rugby and it is fair to say that this game did not disappoint. In the end the UCD team who made fewer errors came out on top, which is often the case at this level, and at higher levels for that matter. However, it would not have been an injustice had DUFC won as they arguably played more with ball in hand on the night. With Trinity outscoring UCD by two tries to one, it was only the kicking that separated the sides; UCD converting their try and aadding a further four penalties in comparison to one converted try for Trinity and 3 missed penalty kicks. In saying this, it was not the missed kicks that cost Trinity, but arguably the unforced errors, with the last pass not going to hand on numerous occasions.
The ascendancy was set down early on with UCD full-back Tom Fletcher crossing in the left hand corner after accurate wide passing got them outside the Trinity defense all too easily after only a few phases. James Thornton converted from out wide to give significant confidence to UCD, but the Trinity side were calm and composed in their responding efforts in the following 15 minutes. After a post-whistle tussle early on involving 20 plus players, the precedent was established that neither of these teams was going to take a backward step. Both sides looked very sharp on the ball and were willing to go from anywhere on the pitch. The larger UCD pack made valiant efforts to suppress the Trinity pack initially, but DUFC were resilient and stood their ground in response to this formidable challenge. Captain Jack Kelly led from the front alongside his dynamic second row partner Will Scott. George Walsh, Richard Halpin and Andy Keating were completely solid in coal face of the front row whilst the back row of Brian Du Toit, Pierce Dargan and Jack Dilger covered huge amount of ground across the paddock. Dilger especially, putting in a talismanic performance carrying more balls then a Gilbert truck on the night. With the pack providing a solid platform, the backs were given free reign. Angus Lloyd and Sam Windsor at half-backs provided slick service and tempo throughout, leveraging their outside backs to continuously probe at the UCD defense. Patrick Lavelle displayed his stalwart role at 12 going forward at all times whilst his outside centre Ed Barry was electric as he scathed through the UCD back-line on countless occasions. The back three in the form of Adeolokun, Ariel Robles and Jack Fitzpatrick all looked sharp on the ball they received. Credible mention must also be given to all the substitutes’ respective contributions when they came on.
With UCD converting another penalty through Thornton on the 20 minute mark, the scoreboad read 10-0; a two score game. Then five minutes later, a moment of genius from man of the match, Angus Lloyd, sparked the game to life and brought Trinity back into it. As UCD went through the phases and entered the opposing 22, Lloyd intelligently intercepted an inside pass and set off for the try line at the Wesley end. Despite the UCD cover defense getting back to him, he managed to spin the ball wide to his supporting full-back Fitzpatrick who then gave the final pass to Robles who was clinical with his finish at the right hand corner flag. Windsor converted superbly to leave it at 10-7 in UCD’s favor. However, UCD were quick to respond with another penalty kick after a cynical ruck offense by Trinity, making the score 13-7 just before the half time mark.
The second half began as the first ended; with huge tempo and both sides looking to put their stamp on the game. Another early penalty offence from Trinity enabled Thornton to step up to the mark yet again to put another 3 points over. At 16-7 and with their backs to the wall, Trinity refused to lie down and roll over. They continuously went through the phases and UCD were visibly being broken down. After a yellow card for UCD number 8 Eoin Joyce for a deliberate slap-down just outside their 22, Trinity looked to capitalise immediately with the numbers mismatch between the packs, opting to kick for the corner. A line-out move straight off the training ground, with the incorporation of a clever transfer on the ground, saw Trinity steamroll the UCD pack over their line and substitute Nick McCarthy grounded the ball at the bottom of the pile. Despite the missed conversion, the Trinity players were now instilled with confidence as they pressed on into the last 20 minutes. With heavy legs and empty lungs across the board both sides emptied their respective benches in order to throw the gauntlet down in the closing quarter.
Despite the conveyable intent and desire of Trinity in their attack late on, UCD through their experienced and dogged nature which they have been accredited with from their season in 1A, remained relatively impenetrable in defence. As the clock ticked to a dying close, UCD put over one more penalty kick following a ruck offence to put the nail in the Trinity coffin. With the sharp blast of the referee’s whistle, this energy-sapping game was brought to a close. Although UCD prevailed as victors and retained the colours trophy, Trinity can keep their heads high after an incredible 80 minute effort from all 23 squad members involved. Sadly, it proved to be a case of “so close but yet so far” for DUFC.
On a personal level, I was immensley proud to be part of this Trinity squad on such a memorable occasion despite being on the wrong end of the scoreline. In true Colours fashion, as we started off in Kiely’s Bar of Donnybrook at 10:30pm post match, the following 48hours proved to be just as monumental a challenge for all involved; quite literally, pints on pints. On a closing and more nostalgic note, the accolade and pride of representing Trinity in the rugby Colours is something that I know will stay with me and all involved for many years to come. As Trinity look to close out the rest of the season and maintain their rightful spot in Division 1B, one would hope that we will do ourselves justice off the back off such a fantastic performance from this young side. Roll Tide.
All photos courtesy of Peter Wolfe.