A massively physical Lansdowne outfit saw the back of Trinity in a classic College Park clash this afternoon, putting down an energetic DUFC in the process. Lansdowne struggled to contain the flair and pace of the Trinity attack, but unfortunately the home side were guilty of turning over the ball at too many key points in the game, leaving them with a second defeat in their maiden season in the top flight.
Both teams came to this fixture on the back of some morale boosting wins. Trinity fought through to grab an historic scalp away to Garryowen last week, while Lansdowne managed to squeeze past last year’s champions Clontarf at home in thrilling fashion the night before that. As a result, the ample crowd were treated to a 1st v 3rd place battle of two on-form teams, with Trinity carrying serious momentum and Lansdowne holding the advantage in previous match ups.
Trinity made a lightening fast start to the game, with a foot in touch denying a try to elusive winger, Colm Hogan, in their first attack. Trinity came out with three points courtesy of a penalty from out-half, Jack McDermott, but immediately surrendered that lead by conceding a penalty after the restart.
Some strong carrying and phase play lead to another three pointer for the home side, before some fine handling skills out wide gave right winger, Brian Mollen, the space for a break, with an inside ball handing full-back, Jack Kelly, the first try of the game.
McDermott was off target with the conversion, and Lansdowne hit back with two penalties in the next ten minutes, off the back of some powerful carrying. It was clear at this point that the match was very much a brains versus brawn affair, with the students’ use of space and speed of play miles ahead of their noticeably larger opponents, who sought to subdue Trinity with heavy collisions, and contain their attack with some physical ruck play.
The physicality began to hurt DUFC towards the latter stages of the second half, as a series of battering carries and a good skip pass lead to Lansdowne full-back Eamonn Mills sprinting over in the corner. Out-half Scott Deasy missed the conversion, but suddenly Trinity’s hard fought lead had been eroded.
Trinity went right back on the front foot however, as some pacey phase play saw them force yet another penalty from Lansdowne, as calls from the crowd for a yellow card grew louder. McDermott converted to make it 14-14. The half ended with a yellow card to Lansdowne tighthead Ian Prenderville, as the referee lost patience with some cynical play from the visitors.
Unfortunately, the second half proved somewhat of a stop start affair, as Lansdowne managed to disrupt Trinity’s attack with some massive hits. They were guilty of halting the home side’s momentum with some cynical penalties, and continued to batter away at the College’s resolute defence, as the pressure built on both sides to produce the tie-breaking score.
The referee also visibly began to feel pressure, with some questionable calls given against both sides in the first ten minutes of the second half. Lansdowne were eventually the ones to break the deadlock, with a fine set piece move putting centre, John O’Donnell, over for a well earned try.
Deasy missed the conversion but Lansdowne hit back again minutes later with another penalty, taking them to a formidable 22-14 lead. Trinity began to launch several impressive attacking plays at Lansdowne, eating up territory on multiple occasions, but unfortunately were unable to retain the ball for a long enough period of time to wear down their opponents.
Errors stunted both teams attack over the last twenty minutes of the game, as Trinity refused to be put away. Some resolute defence saw them stay in the hunt for the last quarter, as a well timed intercept break from McDermott breathed life into the affair.
While Trinity continued to put together impressive phases, Lansdowne’s defence proved too disruptive, leaving the students back in their own half with a minute on the clock. The final scrum of the match resulted in a penalty to the visitors, with the match ending on another penalty from Deasy, leaving the final score at 25-14.
The result shunts DUFC down from first to fifth place in the league, while Lansdowne climb one spot to second. With all five of the top sides holding four wins from six matches, it makes next week’s fixtures pivotal in how the table begins to take shape as we approach the middle of the season.