Back-to-back wins for solid DUFC side

Trinity managed to control sloppy Terenure College, but failed to snatch vital bonus point

Terenure College 8

Dublin University FC (DUFC) earned their first away win of the season in All-Ireland League Division 1A with a 25-8 victory away to Terenure College on Friday night. Tries from Arthur Greene, Max Kearney and Jack Kelly gave Trinity a comfortable buffer over the home side. But poor discipline culminating in a yellow card for prop Bart Vermeulen slowed down the students, who will regret that they didn’t come away with a bonus point.

Trinity headed into the game off the back of a 38-27 win at home to Young Munster last weekend. The college team suffer casualties, however, with scrum-half Rowan Osborne forced off due to injury. There were concerns too regarding talismanic full-back Michael Silvester, who limped off near the end of last Saturday’s victory. Silvester was passed fit for the game and took his place at 15. Coach Tony Smeeth made plenty of changes to his team for Terenure; Conor Lowndes replaced Osborne at scrum-half, while Joe Horan stepped for Dan Sheehan at hooker and Jack Dunne started in the second row, with Alex McDonald settling for a spot on the bench. Centre Phil Murphy was dropped from the matchday squad in favour of Ireland U20 international Jack Kelly.

Trinity laid down a marker in the opening exchanges. The visitors quickly identified weaknesses in the Terenure defences, with out-half James Fennelly kicking into the space left by left winger Sam Coughlan Murray. The Terenure player was caught out of position several times by Fennelly, whose clever kicks gave Trinity a strong territorial advantage in the early stages of the match. Silvester made some dangerous breaks to put further strain on Terenure and the hosts began to leak penalties.

Trinity capitalised on their well-worked chances on the 13th minute. With a lineout close to the home side’s tryline, the visitors heaped pressure on the defence through physical phase play, before Greene crashed over from a close-range pick-and-go. A strong wind blew across the pitch, but Fennelly managed to add the extra two points.

Trinity were occasionally guilty of trying to be too spectacular with their attacking play. The students threw some speculative passes in attempts to get forward. Fennelly made a poor looping effort down the left flank which was easily intercepted by Terenure’s Harry Moore. The visitors’ ill discipline also lost them some momentum, forcing referee Joy Neville to give a warning to captain Colm Hogan. Terenure began to make some inroads in their offensive play, but their inaccuracy at key moments limited the threat they could pose to Trinity. Trinity made some more purposeful attacks, before conceding more offensive penalties to take the sting out of their moves. Their relentless charges did afford them some scoring opportunities, and on 29 minutes Fennelly slotted home a penalty to bring the score to 10-0.

Three minutes later, back row Max Kearney touched down after numerous phases on the home side’s line. Fennelly’s conversion attempt smashed off the right post, ending any hopes of another perfect game from the tee.

Trinity looked as if they might grab a third try before half-time, as Terenure once again found themselves defending close to their own line. This time, they managed to repel the visitors’ attack but not without picking up a few knocks in the process. After a lung-busting defensive effort, the hosts survived the Trinity onslaught. They kicked the ball out of play to keep the score at 15-0 at the break.

Terenure got the game back underway with a newfound energy and look to threaten the Trinity end. The defensive strain again resulted in poor self-restraint from the college team. 5 minutes into the second half, Neville sent loosehead prop Vermeulen to the sin-bin after a dangerous tackle. Moments later, Terenure fly-half James Thornton’s penalty gave the home side their first points of the evening. Fennelly responded with a kick of his own and the scoreboard read 18-3.

After that, the game settled into a pattern; Trinity attacked and looked to add another try to their tally, but a handful of knock-ons and unforced errors continued to give Terenure a narrow escape. The students also began to feel the effects of their performance with Number 8 Niall O’Riordan stumbling off the field.

But Trinity managed to kill the game off with ten minutes left as Kelly crossed the line to give the visitors a comfortable lead. Fennelly added the trimmings for a 25-3 heading down the home stretch. Terenure’s Jamie Glynn got a late consolation try for his team, but it did very little to break the Trinity spirit. Hogan came close to grabbing that all-important fourth but he was dragged into touch to allow Neville to blow the final whistle.

Smeeth was satisfied with his team’s performance; “Terenure put 80 points on us last year over the two games so to win here in a Dublin derby on a wet night is huge for us. I thought we were great for the first 30 minutes – we were really in control. Then when we usually would kick on, we just couldn’t finish. I do feel we should have got a bonus point, but when you’re playing against a proud team at home, you take what you can get.” With the league taking a two-week break, DUFC travel to Cambridge on Tuesday in an exhibition game, before welcoming Oxford to College Park next Saturday.

Cameron Hill

Cameron Hill was the Sports Editor of Trinity News for Michaelmas 2018. He is a Senior Fresh English Literature and French student.