Trinity’s disappointing start to the 2017-18 Rugby season continued today with a heavy 52-12 home loss to Lansdowne in College Park.
This is the third loss in a row for this young Trinity team who have yet to win a match this year in Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League.
Lansdowne entered the match after grinding out an away win against the Buccaneers and steamrolling Young Munster in a 25-5 home win last week. Today, Lansdowne continued their strong start with a try in the second minute against Trinity.
Trinity responded well working the ball into Lansdowne territory on the cricket pitch side. They were awarded two penalties in almost identical positions in the Lansdowne 22 and twice they kicked for touch instead of attempting a kick at goal.
The risk didn’t pay off; however, as Lansdowne won a penalty and cleared their lines with Trinity failing to put points on the board.
The visitors quickly began to dominate possession and spent prolonged periods inside the Trinity 22, only held back by some ferocious tackling. Eventually, Lansdowne scored a penalty try from a scrum right in front of the posts and 4 minutes later they added another try in the corner to go 19-0 up.
The rest of the first half was scrappy and physical with both sides tussling for field position. Although Lansdowne seemed a lot more dynamic when they had the ball, Trinity retained a decent amount of possession due to some precise kicking by number 10 James Fennelly.
Fennelly’s kicking allowed the Trinity backs to show off some creative passing once they got a foothold inside the Lansdowne half. A tap-and-go from the Ulster-capped Angus Lloyd ended with a scoring opportunity for Trinity Winger Billy O’Hora as he raced down the flank. O’Hora blew past the first tackler but was forced out of touch by the next, leaving Trinity scoreless.
Trinity continued to threaten the try-line. A breakaway try looked likely as Jack Dunne steamed down the middle of the pitch. However a knock-on put an end to these hopes. The flashes of creativity and composure shown by the Trinity side in these moments will give Director of Rugby Tony Smeeth reason to believe the team can improve its play in the coming games.
By half-time, neither side added further to the scoreboard leaving Lansdowne with a comfortable lead going into the second half.
Unfortunately for DUFC, Lansdowne didn’t take long to add to their tally after the break. A lofty crossfield kick by Lansdowne number 10 Scott Deasy lead to a fortunate backwards fumble ending with an easy try just five minutes into the half.
At this point hopes of a Trinity comeback were fading. With Trinity number 8 David St. Leger in the sinbin and Lansdowne playing all the rugby, a Lansdowne flanker burst through the Trinity defense with a look to put the game out of reach.
An excellent tackle from Trinity and an accompanying turnover gave the home team a 5 metre scrum. From the scrum, Fennelly was able to relieve the pressure on his side with a booming kick over the halfway line. Unfortunately, this relief proved temporary as Lansdowne broke through the Trinity defense once more, this time coming away with 5 points after a missed conversion.
Despite the hopelessness of their situation DUFC showed resilience. They refused to let up in the ferocity of their tackling. In a particularly impressive move, substitute Dan Sheehan stripped the ball from a Lansdowne back and forced a knock-on. From the resulting scrum Centre Kyle Dixon was able to break two tackles. However, an errant pass ended the attack as the ball went out of touch.
Trinity finally managed to put some well-deserved points on the board with Full-back Michael Silvester showing blistering pace as he raced to the try-line in the 63rd minute.
At this point, the match had opened up as tired bodies from both sides struggled to make tackles with the same vigour. The Lansdowne backline took full advantage of this and added three more tries with Trinity also touching over once more to leave the final score at 52-12.
Trinity can take some pride in their resilience as, even midst fatigue, they attacked with verve until the end. But serious improvements will be expected from Tony Smeeth’s young team if they are to avoid relegation.