BRITISH & IRISH CUP POOL TWO
CARDIFF BLUES PREMIERSHIP SELECT…………….10
By Daire Walsh
ATHY’S Jeremy Loughman featured in the final-quarter of Leinster ‘A’s British & Irish Cup encounter with Cardiff Blues Premiership Select on Saturday evening, when Noel McNamara’s side claimed a 29-10 triumph in Pool Two.
Loughman had scored a try from the bench in their opening round victory at the expense of Doncaster Knights a week earlier, but with former Ireland U20s star Vakh Abdaladze starting in the tighthead prop position for the second game in succession, he was once again amongst the replacements for their opening home encounter of the 2017/18 season.
Jimmy O’Brien and Will Connors (from Eadestown and Donadea respectively) started against Doncaster, but with a number of academy and fringe first-team players at Leinster’s disposal, they were rested for the visit of the Welsh men to the south Dublin venue.
Leinster ‘A’ head coach McNamara previously guided Clongowes Wood College to Leinster Senior Cup glory in 2010 and 2011, and has a strong understanding of schools rugby in Kildare. The Byrne twins – Bryan and Ed – were key figures for Clongowes in the early part of this decade, while the likes of Michael Silvester and Peadar Timmins also came to prominence in their time with the Clane school.
Leinster failed to progress from the pool stages of last season’s B & I Cup, so they were fully aware of the potential danger that this clash with Cardiff posed. They got their account up and running with a 10th-minute penalty try, after a strong line-out maul had placed their opponents on the back-foot.
A recent law change meant that a conversion wasn’t required for this score, and with a seven-point cushion to their name so early in the contest, they were hoping to build further momentum. It was inside centre Ciaran Frawley who had kicked to touch prior to the opening score, and he made no mistake with a subsequent close-range place-kick.
The Skerries native is a highly-rated member of the province’s Academy, and when he was picked out in space on the half-hour mark, they broke over the whitewash for his side’s second try of the night. This provided Leinster with a 17-0 interval buffer, but when the action resumed, Cardiff came out with all guns blazing.
Visiting skipper Sion Bennett crashed over the Leinster line just two minutes after the restart, and though they were held up on a couple of occasions, a Ben Jones three-pointer (in addition to his earlier conversion) dramatically reduced the gap between the sides.
As the half developed, both sides dipped into their reserve options, and this was the cue for Loughman to join the Byrnes in the front-row. He certainly made an impact in his time on the pitch, as Leinster slowly regained control of the play.
Bryan Byrne sprinted over for a third try after a Cardiff line-out had gone astray, and thanks to a final score from Ross Molony on the stroke of 80 minutes, Leinster ‘A’ eventually emerged with a bonus-point to their name.
LEINSTER ‘A’: Jordan Larmour; Michael Silvester, Conor O’Brien, Ciaran Frawley, Tommy O’Brien; Cathal Marsh, Nick McCarthy; Peter Dooley, Bryan Byrne, Vakh Abdaladze; Ross Molony, Mick Kearney; Josh Murphy, Richard Dunne, Peadar Timmins.
Replacements: Ed Byrne for Dooley (half-time), Oisin Dowling for Dunne (51), Jeremy Loughman for Abdaladze (62), Conor Dean for C O’Brien (64), Charlie Rock for McCarthy (69), Hugh O’Sullivan for O’Brien (74).
CARDIFF BLUES PREMIERSHIP SELECT: Lloyd Rowlands; Dale Stuckey, Harri Millard, Owen Lane, Kyle Evans; Ben Jones, Lewis Jones; Rhys Carre, Kirby Myhill, Will Davies King; Sean Moore, Ben Murphy; Shane Lewis-Hughes, Osian Davies, Sion Bennett.
Replacements: Morgan Sieniawski for Davies (54), Ben Thomas for L Jones (57), Dane Blacker for Stuckey (64), Hemi Barnes for Lewis-Hughes, Max Llewellyn for Millard (both 68), Tom Mably for Davies King (71), Joe Page for Myhill (74).
Referee: Karl Dickson (RFU).