RUGBY: LEINSTER SCHOOLS JUNIOR CUP – FIRST ROUND
NEWMAN IS THE MAN FOR NEWBRIDGE COLLEGE
By Daire Walsh
Lucas Berti Newman came to the rescue of Newbridge College at Energia Park (Donnybrook) last Wednesday when his last-gasp try snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the Leinster Schools Junior Cup opening round.
Trailing by four points (10-6) deep into second-half stoppage-time, the south Kildare school looked set to miss out on a quarter-final spot to an impressive Temple Carrig, Greystones. Newbridge persevered with their challenge, though, and Newman’s subsequent intervention ensures they will now face county rivals Clongowes Wood College in the next phase of the competition.
Following their dramatic Division 1A league triumph over Gonzaga College in the same venue in December – Cael Chanders was the final-minute hero on that occasion – Newbridge embarked on this contest in a buoyant mood.
Carrig has lost out to the aforementioned Clongowes exactly 12 months earlier, but were hell-bent on defying the odds in 2019. Newbridge absorbed some early attacking pressure from the Wicklow men, before their line was eventually breached on nine minutes.
Loosehead prop Max Scully discovered a gap on the right-flank and powered over for a deadlock-breaking score. While centre James Nicholson was off-target with the resulting bonus strike, they had served full notice of their intentions.
Despite the best endeavours of Calum Corcoran (who briefly established territory with a lung-bursting break into the Carrig half), the Newbridge backs were working off limited possession for much of the opening period.
Although they breathed a sigh of relief when a Nicholson place-kick floated past the post, they leaked a second try in the the 25th-minute. Scrum-half Colm Shortt broke off an attacking scrum to release winger Conor Cunningham for a simple unconverted finish.
Newbridge were struggling to get to the pitch of the game – though they did gain some solace in the form of Mark Young’s penalty on the stroke of the interval.
They reduced their deficit to seven (10-3) and the dependable full-back also found the range seven minutes after the restart to keep Newbridge on the road to recovery. Without displaying the cutting edge that had earned them silverware prior to the Christmas break, they were slowly coming to terms with the Carrig challenge.
Having largely eliminated their attacking threat, Newbridge were primed for an onslaught towards the opposition posts. However, the Garden County outfit were superbly organised throughout – making it extremely difficult for Newbridge to find space in behind their defence.
When they held up Kieran Kelly just shy of the whitewash on 59 minutes, they remained on course for a famous win. Yet, a stubborn Newbridge refused to throw in the towel and were camped inside the 22-metre line as the clock past 70 minutes.
Another extended spell on the right-hand side saw Newman receiving the ball in an advanced position and he somehow grounded under a slew of Carrig bodies. This sparked wild celebrations from the Newbridge bench, and even though Young’s conversion drifted past the uprights, it matterED little on a day when his side survived a titanic battle.
NEWBRIDGE COLLEGE: Mark Young; David Grant, Calum Corcoran, Lucas Berti Newman, Harry Farrell; Robert Dillon, Tadhg Brophy; Patrick Stapleton, Tom Waters, Harry Rigney; Denis Downing, Cael Chanders; Ruairi Byrne, Sam Fitzgibbon, Kieran Kelly.
Replacements: Ryan Healy for Chanders (50), Pierce Fata for Waters (51).
TEMPLE CARRIG: Joseph Prendergast; Calum Archer, James Nicholson, Patrick Wedgeworth Byrne, Conor Cunningham; Colm Condon, Colm Shortt; Max Scully, Ryan Bourke, Tim Hayden; Neil Burke, Sean O’Neill; Christopher Stewart, Calum Sweeney, Spencer O’Connor.
Replacements: Oisin Shanahan for Shortt (37), Thady O’Donovan for Hayden (47), Patrick O’Connell for O’Neill (58).
Referee: Ian Thompson (Leinster Rugby Referees).