Dublin University 21 Ballynahinch 1’s 28
Niall Montgomery reports from College Park
The perfect conditions for running rugby, a ‘hard track’, suited the students for what turned out to be a very fast paced game in Dublin. With James Simpson & Kyle McCall called up to Ravens duty and unavailable, a diminished Ballynahinch squad turned out in Dublin.
On 22 minutess, a Trinity knock-on allowed Aaron Ferris to gather and run in from 40 metres out. Michael Lawton converted and the balance swung in Hinch’s favour. At 24 mins played, Dublin University 6 – Ballynahinch 7.
Hinch failed to gather the kick off and the Students put the County Down side under sustained pressure for 10 minutes, camped deep in the Hinch 22. Trinity continued to attack, making the Hinch try line, but resolute and sturdy defence saw the home team held up on the line. Further strong defence, especially in the mid field from Stuart Morrow and James Thompson held Trinity out and the home side were looking much sharper and comfortable on the pitch than Hinch.
A Ballynahinch scrum on the Trinity 5 metre approaching 37 minutes held strong and the students collapsed the scrum on several occasions with the Referee finally awarding Hinch a penalty try. Michael Lawton added the extra points. The score hovered at Dublin Uni 6 – Ballynahinch 14.
On 38 mins, Michael Lawton was sin binned for going off his feet in a ruck and the Students were awarded a penalty.
A further penalty award against a Hinch infringement on 40 mins saw David Joyce go for the post from 35 metres out, but in an unusual turn of events, the Referee overruled the touch judges to award the 3 points.
Half Time: Dublin Uni 9 – Ballynahinch 14
The second half started with the Hinch kick off gathered by the students and in a clever backs’ move, the full back James O’Donoghue cut through, only being brought down inside the Hinch 22, with the ball recycled to put No 6 Pierce Dargan over in the corner. Joyce missed the conversion leaving the score all square with 14 each.
On 48 minutes, the County Down men, spurred on by the Students’ last score, saw Aaron ferris get his second try from a text book back line move which saw Harry McAleese provide a perfectly timed inside pass, opening up the home defence and allowing the score. McAleese added the extras in the absence of Lawton.
On 58 mins, the County Down men saw their second Yellow Card as Mike graham was sin binned for a dangerous high tackle on the Students’ winger, Niyi Adeolokun. The Students kicked to touch inside the Hinch 22, won their subsequent line out and with a simple catch and drive allowed Colin MacDonnell to score, with Joyce adding the extras.
The game was now wide open and could go either way with both sides threatening each other back line. Several infringements by the increasingly frustrated Students saw Hinch awarded several penalties, but Lawton, back from the Sin Bin, was unable to match his usually flawless kicking record and 6 points went begging.
On 72 mins, in what could have been the match decider, the Students were awarded a penalty on the Hinch 10 metre line, well within Joyce’s kicking range, but the penalty was immediately reversed by the Referee for a choke by the Trinity prop on Josh Donaldson.
Great forward and backs interplay at 78 minutes allowed Hinch to surge in the Students’ half, with Stuart Orr and Andrew Harper ‘whirling like dervishes’, saw strong phases and great ball recycling, stretching the Student defence to breaking point and allowing Mike Graham, back from the Sin Bin, to run in the bonus point try from 15 metres out. Lawton converted well. 78 mins – Dublin Uni 21 – Ballynahinch 28.
For the last few minutes the Students didn’t give up and threw everything they had at the resolute Hinch defence, making the County Down men battle hard for their 5 points.
Overall and as predicted one of the games of the season that could have gone either way at any stage. The Students were sharp and constantly threatening, but a 15-man performance from a strong Hinch side saw them grind out a deserved victory.
Team: C Stevenson, G Armstrong, C Carey, J Madden, J Donnan, N Faloon, D McGuigan, M Graham, B McIlroy, H McAleese, A Ferris, J Thomson, S Morrow, M Lawton, R McBurney
Replacements: S Orr, A Harper, J Donaldson, A Cairns, R Harte