Apr 17, 2011

Trinity trump UCD in annual rugby Colours Match

The 52nd annual rugby match colours at Donnybrook on Saturday saw a fierce contest, in which Trinity College managed to oversee tough opposition in the form of old rivals University College Dublin to edge their way to a 31-22 victory.

The conclusion was not without drama however, as referee Simon McDowell controversially sinbinned UCD’s scrum-half Rob Shanley, and awarded a penalty try, for pulling back Trinity’s Craig Telford close to the UCD line. James O’Donoghue’s conversion put Trinity ahead by 9 points, with five minutes remaining. The pivotal decision was the final nail in the coffin for the UCD side, as it negated UCD captain Andy Cummisky’s solo try two minutes previously which had swung the momentum in favour of the division two leaders.

Trinity’s forward pack dominated proceedings for large periods of the game, competing fiercely at the breakdown, which kept the pacey UCD backs on the back foot. Trinity’s resolute defending was also a factor in the win, with inside centre Tim McCoy and openside Dominic Gallagher among those not allowing the UCD three-quarter line to build up a head of steam.


The combined, accurate kicking efforts of David Joyce at out half and James O’Donoghue at full-back kept UCD pinned back in their own territory for much of the match, and slowed down the tempo. Such kicking gave the Trinity forwards opportunities to increase their stranglehold on the game.

The game probably couldn’t have started worse for Trinity, as UCD winger Terry Jones reacted well to the break of Cummisky, collected a loose ball and sprinted to the line to score within the first 4 minutes. James Thornton’s conversion put UCD 7-0 ahead before the Trinity backs had even touched the ball.

Trinity began to fight their way back into the game with some good forward continuity from Ian Hirst and Tim O’Mahony, leading to a penalty opportunity from James O’Donoghue, which he converted to take the score to 7-3. Trinity were then unlucky not to have a try awarded, as prop James Gethings was held up over the UCD line. They were then however, awarded another penalty from the resulting scrum, which O’Donoghue landed, to take the scores to 7-6.

For a small spell in the first half, the UCD forwards were then able to generate quick ruck ball which allowed Thornton to bring his fellow backs into the game. They moved the ball well left and right, eventually creating the opportunity for Jones, who crashed over in the left corner to put UCD 12-6 in front.

Trinity responded well, with Gallagher breaking the UCD line, although he wasn’t able to offload to scrumhalf Michael McLoughlin. UCD failed to get back onside from the resulting ruck, and O’Donoghue landed the penalty to take the game to 12-9.

The Trinity backs then began to create good opportunities for themselves with some intricate manoeuvres, leading to a lineout on the UCD line. Hirst then scored off the catch and drive after the pack managed to transfer the ball at the point of contact. O’Donoghue converted to put the Trinity team 12-16 ahead. Thornton then added a penalty to follow up good UCD counter-attacking by full-back Michael Twomey, to bring the score to 15-16 at the half.

Trinity began to dominate the breakdown in the second half, as Captain Scott LaValla and number 8 Johnny Iliff were among the menaces in the Trinity pack which posed problems for UCD all day. O’Donoghue and Joyce used their tactical kicking to great advantage, to allow the superior Trinity set-piece to bleed the energy from the UCD pack. O’Donoghue landed another penalty after a break from winger Neil Hanratty to take Trinity four points ahead.

The second half saw an increase in intensity, as both benches were brought into the game. The UCD blitz defence began to bear the fruits of labour, with the Trinity backline continuously making handling errors. The Trinity defence looked suspect whenever UCD decided to spread the ball wide, with Cummisky consistently getting past the gainline. However, the slow ball created by the fierce rucking of the Trinity pack meant UCD were unable to capitalise on their opportunities.

Trinity winger Shane Hanratty’s break then led to Trinity camping on the UCD line for a decent period. Substitute scrum-half Telford used the ball well, resulting in second row Pierce Byrne scoring around the back of a ruck, to put Trinity 24-15 up with under 15 minutes remaining.

The move of the game goes to UCD captain Andy Cummiskey’s magnificent solo effort. He took the ball at standoff, sliced the Trinity defence open, and then sidestepped O’Donoghue at full-back to score under the posts, displaying excellent pace and balance.

Referee Simon McDowell’s controversial call effectively ended the match as a contest, as Joyce comfortably controlled the rest of the game with his kicking, leading to the first Trinity victory since 2007. In truth, they deserved to win the game with the standard of defence, fitness and maturity that they displayed. UCD didn’t show enough dynamic, cutting-edge attack in the second half, which was dominated by the Trinity forwards. Scott LaValla received the Man of the Match award for an excellent all-round performance, although Dominic Gallagher, for his line-running and defence, and James O’Donoghue, for his kicking, could have been awarded it also.

A win in this, the final game of the season, secures Trinity’s position in mid-table, while keeping old rivals UCD from securing the Division title, which goes to Ballynahinch.

Mathew Rye

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