Trinity 55pts – Blackrock 21pts; April 16th 2016
Trinity closed out the regular league season with an entertaining performance in College Park on Saturday. The two teams came into the game with a different perspective, Blackrock having to win to avoid the relegation play offs, Trinity looking to get some momentum leading into the promotion play offs.
Blackrocks’ need was definitely greater and they came out far more urgent and aggressive throwing huge numbers into rucks disrupting Trinity’s ball, time and time again.
Trinity, who made several changes from their league game in St Mary’s, had an inexperienced look about the team and took a while to get up to the physicality of Senior Rugby. Blackrock’s Peter Quirke put them ahead with a penalty, only for Jack McDermott to reply with one of his own to tie the scores up.
At this point Trinity began to get their patterns working and the spaces began to open up. They caught the visitors defensively very narrow as they moved the ball first wide right with scrum Angus Lloyd featuring twice, and then back wide left with centre Michael Courtney putting Captain Nick McCarthy in for a wonderful score.
Blackrock dominated possession for long periods, with their ball carriers running strongly off the side of rucks. But when the game opened up there was only one team in it. This was particularly so for Trinity’s second try, when Blackrock attacked for several phases on the Trinity line. They gave away a penalty and home flanker Brian Du Toit burst clear in his own 22m area. Du Toit fed U20s left wing Bryan Mollen who took the ball up the sideline, before kicking through for his U20s colleague and 1st XV debutant Colm Hogan, who gathered the ball and strolled under the posts, for what must have been a sickening blow for the boys from Stradbrook.
Blackrock did kick another penalty to go into half time 17-6 down.
In the second half the students created some nice continuity, before being awarded a scrum on the Rock line. The visitors struggled in the scrum all game and it was no surprise when the well-drilled home pack heaved them over for a penalty try.
With a 24-6 lead, the students continued to attack, and from a scrum deep in their own half they pulled off a fabulous training ground move to put storming wing Tim Maupin away out wide. Maupin carried 80 metres before presenting the young Irish U19s international Colm Hogan with his second try under the posts.
Off the restart Trinity put the unstoppable Maupin away again as he took the ball all the way to the goal-line before the ball was knocked on by his support. Trinity were playing festival rugby with some great passages of play as they ran the visitors ragged at every opportunity to entertain the large crowd.
Blackrock, although knowing victory was out of the question, were given hope when they scored their first try, which was quickly followed by a second. Out half Jack McDermott scored under the posts for Trinity after some great continuity.
The Visitors were now thinking they may get a bonus point in this try scoring extravaganza, but Trinity replacement prop Tom Collis crashed over from close in when he followed up some nice play between forwards and backs. Off the restart Number 8 Tom Ryan broke clear and ran 50 metres before putting his own slant on a ‘no look’ pass, which Bryan Mollen brilliantly plucked off his ankles to score under the posts. Rock pressured hard, and to their credit got their third try.
The games closing scene had the visitors throwing everything at the best defence in the top two leagues, with phase after phase being repelled by the Trinity defence. The ‘boys in white’ seemed to actually enjoy the challenge of keeping their rivals out. This, they did with aggressive proud defence.
Blackrock will play Cashel in the semi final to avoid relegation.
The Students go the other way to the Promotion play offs, with a very difficult home game against Ballymena in College Park next weekend. The other semi final will be Buccaneers who will travel to Ballynahinch who incredibly avoided bottom place in 1A with a 56-5 win over Garryowen, putting the unfortunate Galwegians back down to 1B for next season.
Trinity team; 15 Colm Hogan, 14 Tim Maupin, 13 Michael Courtney, 12 Paddy Lavelle, 11 Bryan Mollen, 10 Jack McDermott, 9 Angus Lloyd (Brian Slater 50), 1 James Bollard, 2 Matt McCann (Warren Larkin 50), 3 Andy Keating (Tom Collis 55), 4 Jack Burke, 5 Cian O’Dwyer, 6 Nick McCarthy (Conor Gleeson 65), 7 Brian Du Toit, 8 Tom Ryan