UCD RFC 21 – 20 Galwegians
UCD RFC will meet Cork Constitution in the final of the Bateman Cup in April after their narrow 21-20 victory over Galwegians in their semi-final clash at the Belfield Bowl.
Collidge went into the game with a depleted squad due to a number of their first-string players being called up to the Leinster A team that faced Ealing Trailfinders in the British and Irish Cup on Friday evening.
Despite being deprived of key players such as full back Andrew Boyle and winger Sam Coghlan-Murray, UCD RFC overcame their opponents thanks to two well-taken tries and a determined defensive display up until the final minute.
The pitch was very wet under foot for the entire game, as conditions were difficult for both sides throughout. UCD started the game strong and despite the weather, still strived to play their characteristic attacking style of rugby, with plenty of offloads.
Jordan Coghlan was lively throughout the entire game at inside centre and was a constant threat that Galwegians had to worry about when he had ball in hand. He served as a constant outlet to carry the ball for flyhalf James Thornton and seemed to break the gain line every time he touched the ball.
The first score of the game came after 16 minutes when Thornton slotted over a penalty from close range. UCD had looked likely to take the lead since kick off with Galwegians struggling to get into the game and giving away three penalties at the breakdown in ten minutes as they tried to contain UCD just outside their own twenty-two.
Galwegians erupted to life when UCD uncharacteristically gave away an unnecessary penalty on attack for not releasing the ball and the visitors kicked for the corner. Another penalty came quickly after they secured their own lineout deep in the UCD half and they elected to kick at goal, but Ross Shaughnessy missed from the left touchline.
The visitors gathered more confidence after pressing their way into UCD territory and a few minutes later Shaughnessy levelled with a penalty, this time from the 45 metre line.
UCD responded with fury and from the kick off, pressure from home number eight, Eoin Joyce, forced a Galwegians player to fumble the ball back in their own twenty-two. UCD gathered the spilled ball and didn’t waste anytime trying to force their way into a try scoring position.
Collidge continued to batter their way forward through the props, with Kieran Moloney and Liam Hyland carrying very effectively. Both props and lock Brian Cawley were vital in setting up the platform for scrumhalf, Jamie Glynn, to take on the ball and step the first defender and then the second before diving for the line from five metres with the slippery pitch carrying him over the rest of the way and giving Thornton an easy conversion to make it 10-3.
Despite conceding the try quickly after getting their first points, Galwegians had firmly caught up with the pace of the game. UCD then gifted them a chance to close the gap after illegally playing the ball at the breakdown in a dangerous position. Cawley was yellow carded and Shaughnessy made it 10-6.
Galwegians were very clinical throughout the ten minute period that Cawley was in the sin bin, leaving UCD’s defence just about holding on before half time and eventually getting reward for all their pressure as the referee was ready to blow his whistle.
Persistence down UCD’s right wing gave the visitors their first try as a series of offloads ultimately saw Galwegians’ winger, Ronan Moore, dive over after picking the ball up from close range. With the final action of the half, Shaughnessy kicked the conversion making the score 10-13 to Galwegians at the break.
The second half was an interesting affair as the pace of the game was killed by numerous stoppages in play and the bad weather causing handling errors for both sides.
The game sprung back to life in the 55th minute when UCD created an overlap and opened up the Galwegians defence. Glynn fed Thornton from the base of a ruck and the flyhalf picked out his onrushing outside centre, Alex Kelly, who took the ball on and straightened before stepping inside to beat the last defender.
As he stepped his opponent, Kelly fell to his knees as the tryline beckoned, but easily offloaded to full back Tom Fletcher who came in off the wing to take the ball on and score the try under limited pressure. Thornton converted, giving UCD the lead again at 15-13.
From here on, Galwegians piled on the pressure looking to grab a second try that would give them the lead again. UCD were under significant pressure for much of the rest of the second half, but made two breaks into the Galwegians half and won two penalties, which Thornton slotted over with ease. The vital kick came in the 78th minute when Thornton gave his side an eight-point lead over their opposition.
With the score at 21-13, Galwegians were still relentless up until the final whistle and eventually got their second try of the game through Conor Muldoon well past the 80 minute mark, which brought them within one point of UCD.
Galwegians had one final chance to try and score the winning points, but UCD contained their visitors just on halfway and eventually forced an error that saw possession switch back to UCD and the final whistle blown.
15. Tom Fletcher, 14. Barry Daly, 13. Alex Kelly, 12. Jordan Coghlan, 11. Stephen Murphy, 10. James Thornton, 9. Jamie Glynn; 1. Kieran Moloney, 2. Adam Clarkin, 3. Liam Hyland, 4. Brian Cawley, 5. Emmet Mac Mahon, 6. Shane Grannell, 7. Josh van der Flier, 8. Eoin Joyce; 16. Rory Harrison, 17. Sean McNulty, 18. Gordon Frayne, 19. Donagh Lawler, 20. Bobby Holland, 21. James Murray, 22. Adam Byrne.
15. John Cleary, 14. Ciaran Gaffney, 13. Colin Conroy, 12. Jerome Harimate, 11. Ronan Moore, 10. Ross Shaughnessy, 9. Barry Lee; 1. Jason East, 2. Ross Fitzgerald, 3. Doron Mc Hugh, 4. Anthony Ryan, 5. Brian Mc Clearn, 6. Eoin Rooney, 7. Eddie Earle, 8. Jack Dinneen; 16. Conor Lowndes, 17. David Clarke, 18. Matt Dever, 19.Jarlath Naughton, 20. Conor Muldoon, 21. Matthew Towey, 22. Jordon Healys.