Trinity U20s met their Belfield rivals UCD last Sunday in their third Super 6 fixture. Having already narrowly lost to UCD back in December, the students were determined not to be on the wrong end of the score line this time around.
Due to poor weather conditions the venue for the match was changed early Sunday morning as the game kicked-off in Santry rather than the accustomed College Park.
Playing uphill in the first half, Trinity began the stronger of the two sides. Territorial dominance and quick ruck ball gave centre Paul Galbraith a straightforward penalty early on and he duly obliged to open the scoring.
The Trinity lineout was functioning well with Hooker Derek Whiston throwing accurately. Second row duo Conor McDermott and Darragh Kiely were omnipresent at the breakdown and their aerial prowess meant UCD lineout ball was often a lottery. At scrum time, props Ian Hirst and Ivan Campbell set a tremendous platform from where the Trinity speedsters took advantage.
The first try of the day arrived courtesy of left wing Niyi Adeolukon. Following dogged defence and dynamic counter-rucking, Hugh Kelleher made the decisive turnover and swiftly offloaded to the electric Adeolukon who crossed over in the corner. Galbraith was unable to add the extras leaving the host 8-0 in the lead at half-time.
UCD enjoyed more of the ball after the half-time break. Following indiscipline from the Trinity pack, UCD found themselves deep inside the Trinity 22m line. However, as has been a recurrent theme thus far, the red and black wall stood firm. The UCD backs never looked like penetrating their opposite men and Trinity weather the storm without a blotch on the scoreboard.
The second try of the day came from the other side of the Trinity backline, Ariel Robles. Once UCD conceded a penalty inside their own half, Trinity chose to kick for the corner and utilise their dynamic mauling.
Sucking in the oppositions defence, Scrum Half Sam Bell spun quick ball out to Fly-Half Ciaran Wade who delivered a beautifully disguised miss pass to his outside backs. Robles sprinted onto the ball and slid over in the corner. The conversion missed narrowly and Trinity enhanced their lead to 13 points.
After the restart, Trinity made the unforgivable mistake of allowing their opponents back into the game by giving away a penalty opportunity for not retreating after a box kick. UCD full-back Terry Jones nudged his side to their first points of the day leaving the score 13-3.
It was that man Adeolukon who popped up again to seal the Trinity victory. Fullback James O’Donoghue gathered a clearing UCD kick and the following counter-attack was poetry in motion. O’Donoghue combined beautifully with centre Peter Finnigan wide on the left hand side.
Finnigan cut back inside and off-loaded to Adeolukon who proceeded to out-pace the entire UCD cover defence to skate in under the posts. Galbraith added to the conversion to leave the score 20-3 at the full-time whistle.
The Maher Cup is competed between UCD and Trinity every year. Once the aggregate score over the two fixtures is calculated, the leading side lifts the trophy. Having been defeated 6-5 in the first leg, Trinity’s second leg performance meant on aggregate they were victorious 26-8.
Such a convincing score line in a colours match is rarely achieved. This U20s side are improving week by week and crucially they continue to move up the Super 6 ladder. Having leapfrogged UCD after Sundays result, the students now lie in 3rd position.
Next up are league-leaders Landsdowne next Sunday at the RDS which promises to be another cracker. Trinity now lead the table for most tries scored and least tries conceded which is another indicator of the improvements the side has made since Christmas.