Lansdowne FC 14 – 27 UCD RFC
UCD RFC opened their Ulster Bank League Division 1A season in a tough affair away to Lansdowne FC, with Collidge running in three tries and James Thornton kicking four penalties.
Despite entering the season with a weakened squad due to the departure of Craig Ronaldson to Connacht on a professional contract, last year’s champions will still be disappointed that they suffered an opening day home defeat to Collidge.
UCD, on the other hand, will be delighted with their start to the season and have proven that they too could contend in the top division and compete with the more dominant and physical teams.
The away side got off to an ideal start with a try in the 5th minute from Conor Gilsenan, who drove his way over the line in the left corner. It was a great team effort as the ball was passed precisely through the hands from one side of the pitch to the other. The missed conversion attempt by James Thornton curtailed Collidge’s perfect start, but their advantage was short lived.
In the 11th minute, a dangerous tackle by Eoin Joyce saw Collidge reduced to 14 men as the number eight was sin-binned. This was the advantage Lansdowne used to get straight back into the game as their now dominant scrum gave them a penalty opportunity within kicking range from UCD’s uprights.
The kick was confidently struck by Scott Deasy in the 15th minute bringing, the home side back to within two points. Lansdowne took further advantage of their numerical superiority minutes later and converted another penalty, again by Deasy, to take the lead. This was followed by numerous attacks that yielded nothing.
UCD’s defence was firmly tested and absorbed all that was thrown at it. Unfortunately, ill discipline at the break down from Collidge gave the home side another penalty that was narrowly missed by a confident Deasy in the 27th minute.
Against the run of play, UCD managed to pick up a penalty in the 30th minute that was knocked over from near the halfway line by Thornton. This left the score at 8–6 as half time loomed, yet in quick succession Collidge picked up two yellow cards, one for full back Andy Boyle and one for flanker Mark McGroarty.
This gave Lansdowne another three points by the boot of Deasy and killed the confidence of UCD’s scrum. Yet Lansdowne continuously failed to capitalise on the now two-man advantage, as the away side were able to hold them off until half time without conceding points, with Lansdowne taking just a one-point advantage into the break.
Lansdowne’s total dominance in the first half faded in the early part of the second, as UCD stepped up their attack. A wild pass through the legs of Collidge’s Stephen Murphy to Alex Kelly was the start of a break that almost saw Barry Daly score down the left wing.
The hosts came straight back at them as Scott Deasy struck tactical kicks deep into the UCD half. His efforts were unrewarded, however, as Collidge’s back three cleaned up well, even under high pressure from the home side.
This gave the young visiting side a great attacking foothold that resulted in two penalties that were both converted by Thornton, one in the 54th and 61st minute, leaving the score at 14–9 in UCD’s favour.
A high tackle from Clive Ross saw Lansdowne receive their first yellow card of the match and another sloppy penalty in the breakdown saw UCD convert another three points to see the score at 17–9; now more than a converted try clear of Lansdowne. It was a turning point in the match and really gave belief and confidence to Collidge, allowing them to increase the pressure on their opponents.
UCD built on this lead soon after as a speculative pass from Thornton to Barry Daly sent the winger into the left corner for a well-worked try. Even with the conversion missed, the home team’s moral was severely damaged, while a fortunate penalty converted again by Thornton stretched out the deficit to a demoralising 13 points.
Brilliant individual skill from Conor Gilsenan, James Thornton and Stephan Murphy nearly saw UCD score another try soon after, but the home side managed to hold off these now frequent attacks. Still, they were unable to convert any of their own chances as they struggled to get out of their half.
A poorly struck drop goal attempt by centre Stephen Murphy of UCD almost saw his outside man, Alex Kelly, score a try of his own after the kick hit the base of the post and stopped near the home sides try line. The ball was abruptly cleared by Lansdowne, just keeping the home side in contention.
Nonetheless, a Collidge try followed soon after, as Andy Boyle broke through a tiring Lansdowne defence to score near the uprights to make the score 27–9. Once again, the extra two-points for the conversion weren’t forthcoming; one of few errors fly-half Thornton can be criticised for.
At this stage, the game was lost for Lansdowne but, as the final whistle was nearing, a beautiful looping pass from Mark Roche to Cian Aherne gave the home side something to cheer about with their only try of the match.
Collidge were the well-deserved victors as a win against last year’s league winners has truly announced their arrival into the top division and left Lansdowne with a lot of questions about their performance. UCD’s next match is against Old Belvedere on Saturday 5th of October.
– Joe Ronaldson
Lansdowne: Try: Cian Aherne; Pens: Scott Deasy 3
UCD: Tries: Conor Gilsenan, Barry Daly, Andrew Boyle; Pens: James Thornton 4
Lansdowne FC (HOME): 1.Peter Dooley, 2.Tyrone Moran 3.Adam Boland, 4.Willie Earle (c), 5.Rhodri Jones, 6.Clive Ross, 7.Charlie Butterworth, 8.Ron Boucher, 9.Patrick O’Driscoll, 10.Scott Deasy, 11.Conor Toolin, 12.Mark Roche, 13.Shane Gahan, 14.Cian Aherne, 15.Ross McCarron (Replacements) 16.Jack O’Connell 17.Steve Collins, 18.Brian Moylett, 19.Tom Kiersey, 20.Gearoid McDonald
UCD RFC (AWAY): 1.James Tracy, 2.Risteard Byrne, 3.Rory Harrison, 4.Shane Grannell (c), 5.Emmet MacMahon, 6.Conor Gilsenan, 7.Mark McGroarty, 8.Eoin Joyce, 9.Luke McGrath, 10.James Thornton, 11.Barry Daly, 12.Stephen Murphy, 13.Alex Kelly, 14.Sam Coghlan-Murray, 15.Andy Boyle, (Replacements) 16.Liam Hyland, 17.Adam Clarkin, 18.Micheal Cawley, 19.Jamie Glynn, 20.Niall Earls