Dublin University 20
Two second half tries from elusive winger Matthew Bowen inspired UCC’s 30-20 bonus point win away to Dublin University in the opening round.
The well-drilled Cork side got the better of their student rivals, who were beaten semi-finalists last season, with Rob Hedderman and Bowen chipping in with tries from the back-three and Australian newcomer Rory Suttor, a bustling flanker, marking his Division 1A debut with a try.
UCC had retained their top flight status last April via the play-offs and the deadlock was broken at College Park by their ever-accurate out-half James Taylor. The youngster, who accumulated a division-leading 188 points last season, knocked over a 35-metre penalty from the right, following some excellent work by the pack, led by dynamic number 8 Daire Feeney.
Leinster commitments had robbed Trinity of some of their frontliners, including scrum half Rowan Osborne who made his GUINNESS PRO14 debut the previous night against the Ospreys.Osborne’s regular club half-back partner Micheal O’Kennedy missed a penalty before UCC went close to scoring the opening try, centre Cian Bohane breaking at pace and linking with Hedderman who knocked on before he could put Bowen over in the corner.
Taylor doubled the visitors’ lead with a second successful penalty and then Hedderman was freed up to touch down in the 17th minute, the initial momentum coming from a Taylor kick which was taken down by Bohane.
The talented number 10 converted with aplomb for a 13-0, but Trinity had the better of proceedings in the lead up to half-time and cut the gap to just three points.
O’Kennedy opened their account with a penalty, and only some superb UCC defence prevented the hosts from scoring from a couple of lineout mauls. Nonetheless, with UCC prop Rob Loftus sent to the sin-bin, Trinity hooker Donnacha Mescal finished off a well-executed lineout drive with a timely converted score.
14-man UCC resumed in better fettle, going through the phases for Suttor to notch their second try of the game which went unconverted.Scrum half John Poland then released Bowen for a well-taken 49th minute try, the winger collecting his own kick to go over in the corner and Taylor supplied another superbly-struck conversion from out wide.
Despite an O’Kennedy penalty which reduced the arrears to 25-13, Trinity found it difficult to get their hands on clean ball. It finally arrived inside the final 10 minutes, centre James Moriarty exploiting a gap to the left of the posts to make it a five-point game and set up a grandstand finish.
Trinity attempted a final surge off an attacking lineout, only to immediately hand momentum back to their hungry Cork opponents. UCC bravely decided to push for a bonus point in the dying embers, and they were rewarded when Bowen expertly evaded a cover tackle to score again in the left corner.
Dublin University scorers: Tries: Donnacha Mescal, James Moriarty; Cons: Micheal O’Kennedy 2; Pens: Micheal O’Kennedy 2
UCC scorers: Tries: Rob Hedderman, Rory Suttor, Matthew Bowen 2; Cons: James Taylor 2; Pens: James Taylor 2
DUBLIN UNIVERSITY: Luis Faria; Ronan Quinn, James Hickey (capt), James Moriarty, Hugh Twomey; Micheal O’Kennedy, Louis O’Reilly; Bart Vermeulen, Donnacha Mescal, Aziz Naser, Arthur Greene, Joseph McCarthy, Johnny McKeown. Max Kearney, Paddy Hamilton.
Replacements: Mark Nicholson, Giuseppe Coyne, Reuben Pim, Tomas Killeen, James Fennelly, Billy O’Hora, Paddy Nulty.
UCC: Rob Hedderman; Murray Linn, Cian Bohane, Peter Sylvester, Matthew Bowen; James Taylor, John Poland; Bryan O’Connor, Fergus Hennessy, Rob Loftus, Cian Barry, Richard Thompson, Aiden Brien, Rory Suttor, Daire Feeney (capt).
Replacements: Tadgh McCarthy, Tom Ormond, Ryan Murphy, Michael Clune, Brian Slater.