Garryowen’s robust defence was the difference today as they triumphed over Trinity in an engrossing and high-scoring clash in College Park. While both sides enjoyed spells of fluid, attacking rugby, lapses in concentration by Trinity when defending allowed Garryowen to claim the spoils in a 37-28 victory.
Wearing rainbow-coloured laces to encourage LGBT inclusivity, Trinity started confidently as they retained possession well, forcing Garryowen back into their own half.
A high tackle by Garryowen gave Trinity a penalty inside the Garryowen 22, but with the momentum behind them, outhalf James Fennelly tapped the ball into touch. The risk paid off as a strong maul from the lineout set up the first try of the match as Psychology Masters student Alex McDonald got over the line.
Garryowen weren’t discouraged as a nice lateral passing move ended with fullback David Johnston touching down; there was a silver lining for Trinity though as a missed conversion kept the score at 7-5 to the hosts.
Five minutes later, Garryowen took the lead thanks to captain Neil Cronin slotting a penalty. With Trinity’s Munster-capped scrum-half Angus Lloyd injured, the unbridled optimism of the opening 10 minutes appeared to be waning.
Garryowen edged further into the ascendancy with a crucial try in the 30th minute. After fielding a booming kick from James Fennelly, Garryowen full-back David Johnston looked isolated, but he managed to wriggle his way out of two tackles to set up a try for winger Liam Coombes. A conversion by Cronin extended Garryowen’s lead to 8 points.
Both sides demonstrated creativity and flair in attack but the stout Garryowen defence held firm while Trinity looked unconvincing in defence allowing Coombes another try at the halftime whistle leaving themselves a mountain to climb.
Trinity’s resiliency, a trademark of the team this season, showed as they scored within the opening five minutes of the second half; fullback Michael Silvester touched down in the corner to make it 14-20.
Unfortunately for Trinity, defence continued to prove decisive as they couldn’t convert their attacking play into a game-changing score. Instead it was Garryowen who reaped the rewards of their back play with Liam Coombes scoring a hat-trick and a fourth try for a bonus point. Another try 3 minutes later put Garryowen 34-14 up.
Trinity’s resiliency paid off though as they chased a bonus point: a try on the cricket-pitch side, put them within one try of the four needed for the crucial point. Garryowen didn’t relent and they added another three points from a penalty in front of the points to make it a two score game.
Trinity willed themselves inside the Garryowen 22 with five minutes to play and a breakaway score from Silvester on the final touch of the game secured what could be a valuable point for the hosts.
While Trinity will be disappointed that they couldn’t build off their vital victory over St. Mary’s last week, Trinity Director of Rugby Tony Smeeth will take solace in the resilience his side showed in snatching a bonus point.