UCD 6 LANSDOWNE 20, Belfield Bowl (played on Friday)
Scorers: UCD: Pens: Cillian Burke 2
Lansdowne: Tries: Eamonn Mills, Daniel McEvoy; Cons: Scott Deasy 2; Pens: Scott Deasy 2
HT: UCD 6 Lansdowne 14
First half tries from Eamonn Mills and Daniel McEvoy fired Lansdowne to their opening win in All-Ireland League Division 1A as they finished 20-6 clear of hosts UCD at the Belfield Bowl on Friday night.
Out-half Scott Deasy also contributed 10 points from the tee for Mike Ruddock’s charges whose title defence had begun in frustrating fashion over the past fortnight with defeats to Clontarf and Garryowen. Unbeaten up to this third round clash, UCD could only muster two penalties from full-back Cillian Burke.
Dan Leavy’s younger brother Adam and scrum half Tim Murphy carried strongly before Lansdowne full-back and captain Mills finished off a sweeping attack for a stunning try with just 40 seconds on the clock. Deasy converted and the visitors mostly dominated the first quarter, although a knock-on denied them following a penalty kick to touch.
Nearing the half hour mark, the impressive Murphy broke off a lineout maul and linked with winger McEvoy who successfully juggled the pass and finished neatly for Deasy to convert. However, two well-struck left-footed penalties from Burke – the second one from an awkward angle – reduced the arrears for the students to 14-6 for half-time.
Chasing their sixth league win on the trot over UCD, the headquarters club responded with a 46th minute penalty from Deasy following some powerful carrying from locks Willie Earle and David O’Connor, with the latter making his belated league debut for the club following injury. Corkman Deasy nailed another place-kick, seven minutes later, to put 14 points between the sides.
A calm and measured Lansdowne continued to probe for more scores but a third try never materialised and UCD pushed hard for a losing bonus point late on. Nonetheless, Lansdowne’s defence was superb on the night and they held off the students’ late attempts to score, which included a miscued lineout in the final minutes.
Giving his reaction afterwards to Irish Rugby TV, Lansdowne head coach Ruddock said: “Tough start for us with three away matches to start with, so it was never going to be easy. A couple of fine margins in the first two. Tonight I thought we were very comfortable.
“We had control of the football, control of the tempo of the game. We dictated matters because of it and then UCD, as we know, are a very skilful team so it was important we close them down when they had the ball and I thought we did that really well.
“I thought the referee (Jonathan Peak) was excellent, very consistent for both teams. That made for a good game even though I thought we dictated matters and were comfortable winners, if not so much on the scoreboard in terms of territory and the way the game was played out.”
UCD: Cillian Burke; Tim Carroll, Andy Marks, Paul Kiernan, Rob Keenan; Matthew Gilsenan, Tom Foley; Sam Griffin, Sean McNulty, Liam Hyland, Charlie Ryan, Tom Treacy, Stephen McVeigh, Alex Penny (capt), Ronan Foley.
Replacements: Richie Bergin, Evin Coyle, Jonny Guy, Nick Peters, Ian O’Kelly.
LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills (capt); Daniel McEvoy, Harry Brennan, Tom Roche, Adam Leavy; Scott Deasy, Tim Murphy; Denis Coulson, Tyrone Moran, Greg McGrath, Willie Earle, David O’Connor, Joe O’Brien, Aaron Conneely, Jack O’Sullivan.
Replacements: James Rael, Ian Prendiville, Tom Murphy, Gareth Molloy, Peter Sullivan.