J4 XV v Dublin University (A) by Chris Kane 07.03.2016

St. Marys J4s v Dublin University:

A calm Monday night in Dublin city centre saw the St. Marys J4s continue their push to stay alive in the Division 6 playoff chase as they took on Dublin University in Trinity College. Very little wind and a firm pitch meant this would be a night for open, fast and above all else exciting rugby. Throw in the fact that nothing short of a win could keep the J4s in the hunt for second spot in the division and that elusive playoff spot and you’ve set the stage for a great game of rugby. Before the match could begin, both sides lined up for a minutes silence to commemorate Sarah Gavaghan, wife of our own Keith Gavaghan, who passed away earlier that day.

The game began in much the way it was expected to with both teams finding running room in the early going. Strong carrying from the likes of lock Shane Fanning and centre Richard Pyne showed holes in the Trinity defensive line early. Continued pressure resulted in an early penalty for fly half James Bourke to convert giving an early lead of 3-0 to Marys. It wasn’t just Marys who found their rhythm early in this one as Trinity looked to avenge the defeat they had suffered away to Marys earlier in the season.

They looked set to do their best to spoil it for the J4s, breaking the line through the goldielocked captain and scoring a try, sinking the conversion handed Trinity a 3-7 lead. The try acted as a wakeup call to the fours who amped up the pressure on the home side for the remainder of the half. Strong scrummaging from the front row of David Browne, Brian Young and Chris Kane caused havoc for Trinity; couple that with great work at the breakdown from the likes of Damien Mere and the hosts began to get sloppy, conceding a penalty just before halftime. Converted by fly half Bourke, meaning a slender lead at the break for the home side with a score line of 6-7.

The second half began much the same way as the first had finished, with Marys slowly upping the pressure on the Trinity pack and forcing them to play a physical game up front. While the forwards had done a great deal of the carrying in the first half it was now the turn of the backs to light up the Trinity defence. James Bourke controlled the Marys attack throughout the first half and it was a break from the backs that Bourke ran in to give Marys their first try of the evening. The next try was not far behind and what a try it was. Full back James Walsh collected a clearing kick from Trinity in his own half and took off, blitzing his way through the entire Trinity defensive line and scoring a truly great try.

Never to know when they are beaten, Trinity continued to look for a break away to get themselves back into the game and, against the run of play, the hit back with a second half try of their own to reduce the margin to a single score and set up a tense final 15 minutes, score now 19-12. Now finding themselves digging deep, the Marys forwards continued to ground out the Trinity pack with the likes of Gar Lloyd and Padraig Nestor carrying hard and hitting even harder at the break down. The set piece continued to be an area of dominance for Marys’ as the game progressed and it was from a line out with two minutes left on the clock that Marys ended any chance of a Trinity comeback. A driving maul from Marys caught the home side unaware and Padraig Nestor grounded the ball to score the final try of the night.

A restart collected by Trinity was bundled into touch and that was the game. A hard fought win for Marys against a much improved Trinity side means that they now move to just four points shy of second place and a spot in the division 6 playoff. With a final home game to Coolmine and the Winters Cup quarter final still to come, this J4 team is far from finished yet.

Final score: St. Marys 24 – Dublin University 12

Chris Kane