The University’s rugby team faced off against their Dublin rivals Terenure in a second division encounter in the Belfield Bowl last Saturday. Stephen Devine reports
UCD 27-13 Terenure
UCD went in to Saturday’s game at the Belfield Bowl lying second in Division 2 of the Ulster Bank League. The Students came into the game on the back of a disappointing loss to Bruff the previous week in the Bateman All-Ireland Cup semi-final. With their sole focus now being promotion, UCD were seeking to ensure a victory over their Dublin rivals, Terenure, to cement their prominent position in Division 2.
It was Terenure that got the best of the early exchanges and indeed the visitors spent most of the first 15 minutes camped in the UCD half. It was the visitors scrum half Kevin O’Neill who was the catalyst for the quick ball they enjoyed. A great break from Terenure hooker Gavin Tully followed by some slick hands gave Brian Mooney a clear run to the line. However, a great last ditch challenge resulted in Mooney being held up, the Students, against the head, won the ensuing scrum and allowed them to alleviate the pressure momentarily.
Terenure’s pressure finally paid off however, after some UCD indiscipline at ruck time gave Terenure’s winger Harry Moore the chance to open the scoring, which he duly did converting a penalty from in front of the posts to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.
Collidge then sustained some more Terenure pressure before a fantastic break and offload by flanker Danny Kenny allowed fullback Michael Twomey to stroll over for his first try of the game which Thornton converted to give UCD a somewhat undeserved 7-3 lead.
Shortly after, referee Richard Kerr attempted to stamp his authority on proceedings by showing Terenure tight-head prop Garry Haminton the first yellow card of the game after warning both teams about indiscipline at ruck time. UCD then extended their lead when out half Thornton landed a penalty from just inside the visitors half.
However, the home side failed to make the most of their numerical advantage and after some great play by Terenure’s pack, a huge skip pass from out half Conor Gildea allowed second row Kevin O’Dwyer to cross the line. Moore added the extras to leave the scores all square at the break.
A first half, which was characterised by poor handling and infringements at the ruck, ended with another Terenure forward been shown a yellow card for continued penalties at the breakdown.
The second half started just as the first had ended with another sin binning, this time it was Collidge’s second row Brian Cawley who was shown yellow, as punishment for yet more perceived infringements at ruck time.
Immediately after, some over eagerness by Terenure’s Kevin O’Neill lead to a penalty for offside. Thornton was once again on target with a long-range effort to reinstate Collidge’s slender three-point advantage.
The next 25 minutes were almost solely played in the Student’s half. However, despite the best efforts of Terenure, a combination of poor handling and great UCD defence meant that all they had to show for their territorial dominance was three points from the boot of Moore.
Thornton was handed an opportunity to restore Collidge’s lead, however the out half saw his effort sail wide of the posts and the scores remained level approaching the final 15 minutes of the game.
Two pieces of individual magic in the final ten minutes sealed the win for the Students. First fullback Michael Twomey beat two would-be Terenure defenders and then sprinted clear to go over for his second try of the game.
Shortly after winger John Conroy cleverly sidestepped his way through the opposition twenty-two to stroll over for his teams third try of the afternoon. Thornton converted both efforts to leave the score at 27-13. The Students went in search of the fourth try bonus point, but time was not on their side and they had to settle for a four-point win.
The students will be happy to have got out of the game with a win and if the truth be told, the final score flattered the home side. If Terenure had been more clinical in their execution, in particular their handling, the result could have been very different.
UCD will take solace, however, from their defensive performance and move on to next week’s highly anticipated clash with Bective Rangers. Bective find themselves in third place behind the Students, a good performance will be required if UCD are to continue their so far undefeated season.