COLLEGE PARK – Dublin University Football Club (D.UF.C.) continues it’s All-Ireland League campaign against league-leaders, Lansdowne, this Saturday, February 18 at the Aviva Stadium.
After a strong 26-15 win over Old Belvedere last Saturday, Trinity aims to score a second consecutive victory in league play and continue marching away from any relegation worries.
“Lansdowne are very physical, kick well for territory, have a great scrum, and are very comfortable on the plastic surface,” said D.U.F.C. head coach Tony Smeeth. “It will be the ultimate test, but I am confident if we can control the collisions we can upset them.”
Trinity (6th AIL, 26 pts.), heads into Saturday’s match coming off the back of a hugely important win over Old Belvedere in College Park. The victory ended a streak of four losses on the hop and moved the team to a sixth place out of ten in the league table.
“It was real important to win against Old Belvedere,” remarked Smeeth. “Even more important was that they were one point ahead of us in the league coming into the game and now we’ve taken 9 out of 10 points off them this season…any wins against the bottom six teams are doubly important if we want to survive.”
If Trinity are to come away with an upset victory this Saturday, they will have to play into the traditional strengths they exhibited against Old Belvedere.
D.U.F.C.’s high tempo, high-efficiency offensive structure will need to fire on all cylinders in order to wear down the physically imposing Lansdowne forwards. Out-half Jack McDermott, who recently returned after a shoulder injury, utilized an expansive, wide-flowing attack against Belvedere that helped put the defence on the back foot and if he can do so against Lansdowne’s defence, space could open up for power runners like centres Kyle Dixon and Michael Courtney to exploit.
“Its all about quick ball. Lansdowne are a very good defensive team who like to create massive line speed, explained Smeeth. “The only way to combat that is to get quick ‘go forward’ ball…but we showed in the first game [that] when we got quick ball they could not live with us.”
Trinity’s chances of victory will be boosted by the return of a full-strength forward pack against Lansdowne, only the second time since December that D.U.F.C. has been able to do so because of injury troubles. Lansdowne’s main strength rests in the power of its forwards, as evidenced in last weekend’s rout of UCD where five of their tries were directly from scrums. A strong challenge at the scrum will greatly help Trinity avoid the same fate as UCD and could give Trinity great front-foot attacking opportunities to work with.
Trinity’s main concern, however, has come from a struggle to capitalize on offensive opportunities. The team has been severely hit by injuries throughout the season, most notably seen in the backs where the entire line has been replaced from last season, except for out-half Jack McDermott. Despite the scoring troubles, however, Coach Smeeth remained confident about his side’s ability to overcome a depleted squad and get back to its usual high-scoring form.
“We have struggled to score more points this season, the past two seasons we were the highest points scorers in all the All Ireland 1B…It takes a while to groom a good back line, but we will get there in the end as our intent is good. The boys are training hard. We have the athletes no doubt. Last Friday against Belvedere we lacked composure in the attacking zone and played far too much ‘slow’ rugby in our own half…We are working hard to solve those issues.”
15. Micheal Silvester; 14.Tim Maupin; 13. Micheal Courtney; 12. Kyle Dixon7; 11. Billy O’Hora; 10. Jack McDermott; 9. Brian Slater; 1. Eric O’Sullivan/James Bollard; 2. Patrick Finlay; 3. Andy Keating; 4. Jack Burke; 5. Pierce Dargan; 6. Raef Tyrrell; 7. Dermot O’Flynn; 8. Tom Ryan
Subs: 16. Jack Boland; 17. Darragh Higgins; 18. Niall O’Riordan; 19. Dan Joyce; 20. Michael Murphy
Trinity’s clash with Lansdowne starts at 2:30 P.M. on the Aviva Stadium 3G pitch. Come out and support the lads as they look to continue their march back up the league table! If you can’t make it, however, stay up to date with the scores on D.U.F.C.’s Facebook and Twitter pages.