06.03.2010 1st XV v Blackrock (A)

06/03/20102.30pmAILBlackrock College9 – 26St. Marys 1st XVAway

Blackrock College RFC V St Mary’s College RFC
9 26
AIL Division 1 A
Saturday 6th March 2010

After this clear win and only two games to go, it looks most promising for at least a play off spot and today we never looked in trouble, although Blackrock, who it has to be admitted were without several of their players, on duty with Leinster, did not stop trying and fought every step of the way, as one would expect of Rock. Although not the pulsating or vibrant game it was when we beat Rock 25 – 3 at home, it was still a sound performance and if the game did not excite, the growing expectation did, and president, Niall, the coaches, players, management and supporters were visibly elevated afterwards. Our scrum was so dominant today that early on one of their props was injured and when a second had to withdraw after a half hour there were uncontested scrums, which distorted the character and the flow of the game and did not help our cause; of course on the other hand it gave players like lock Robin Copeland more freedom and he duly capitalised with a try late in the game. While not a sparkling game, it was technically thorough, no one shirked duty or played badly and there were some creditable performances throughout the team, with the pack particularly to the fore today.
The entire front row was rampant and Richard Sweeney was outstanding, working, taking on restarts, running hard channels and anchoring the scrum solidly, he was my man of the match, the locks also did well. Poor Gareth Logan had to withdraw just before kick off when getting a head knock so Steven Bradshaw ably took his place. The backrow has become the corner stone of the team, all three having formed a bond of understanding, and once again their defence was impervious and they were ever in support.
It is good too for the pack to have on the bench worthy men ready to refresh or improvise when called on, as was the case today. Conor Mc Phillips was once again on the top of his game in all regards. Although not flamboyant, the backline was effective and at the back, Gavin Dunne was as ever efficient, doing all that was asked of him and reliable with boot and hand. It has been often said that the crowd is the sixteenth man; it can also be contended that true self-belief and inner confidence are the tools of triumph, good to note, as destiny dawns.
The game
After the initial sparring, Blackrock opened the scoring when we were penalised for not rolling away, but immediately we went on the attack, bringing the game to them and after three fine phases the ball went from left to right with a fast long delivery from Conor to Shaun who transferred and Mark Sexton, who did well today, sent a delicious ball to Ronan Doherty who was at his best, he went outside his man and inside the cover to score a fine try far out and left the score 3 – 5. On twelve minutes it was 6 – 5 when we went off feet and the on 22 minutes Gavin Dunne converted a penalty so it was 6 – 8.
Then they lost their second replacement prop, leaving it to most unsatisfactory uncontested scrums and on the half they added another penalty so at half time it was 9 – 8, but it was looking good for the visiting team which was growing stronger in all respects and looking as though they would overcome any Rock obluctation.
The second half started as the first had ended with Marys in quiet control, winning lineouts comfortably and on top in the loose, especially at the breakdown where our backrow was winning ball and the runners clearing out well. After 8 minutes, Gavin made it 9 – 11 with a well-struck penalty. Phillip Brophy came on at ten minutes and immediately showed that he is back to his finest form, straightening lines and hunting down carriers, which is good news for the rest of the season, Barry O’Flanagan, who loves the good ground, then came on and got involved straight away. Before the end Cormac Quinn, Colm Mc Mahon and David Kilbride all had runs and contributed well.
On 68 minutes Ronan made a good break along the right touchline beating several defenders and when forced into touch near the line managed to keep the ball in play, then Paul Nash following up fast secured it and as the ruck formed, Robin Copeland picked the ball and dived over the line, Gavin converted with a really good effort from far out. It was now 9 – 18 and we were looking good. A few minutes later, we won a penalty on the left touchline and had the dilemma of whether to go to the corner for a try effort, to hunt for the bonus point, or to attempt to convert, deny a losing bonus and seal the game.
The latter option was taken and Gavin hit the ball superbly to make it 9 – 21. It was not yet over, for on 76 minutes, after Stephen Grissing, who is hitting top form, had done some hard work Robin rampaged up the centre and gave a lovely ball to Darragh Fanning who cleaved through three defenders at electric rate (not the night rate) and scored a super try in the corner to make it 9 – 26; this truly obsigned the game, although for the last few minutes we went on the hunt for a fourth but anyway ended happily the clear winners.
Next along will be Cork Constitution on 27th March, the leaders and our conquerors earlier on, so we have revenge on our minds. It is also Killer’s Ladies Day- no not Lady Killers’ day-. It will be a terrific day, to enjoy good rugby, good food, if you come to the lunch, and no doubt haute couture and some consequential commingling. You are expected.
D O’Brien

Team: – 15 G Dunne, 14 R Doherty, 13 S Grissing, 12 M Sexton, 11 D Fanning, 10 S Mc Carthy, 9 C Mc Phillips, 8 H Hogan (Capt), 7 P Nash, 6 D Hall, 5 R Copeland, 4 S Bradshaw, 3 Rob Sweeney, Richie Sweeney, J Mc Grath.