A sizeable and vocal crowd witnessed the home side that is Trinity rugby’s (DUFC) first league victory in six matches against a strong Old Belvedere outfit. Trinity will hope this win gives them the momentum they need to remain competitive in this competition and they will now looking to aim for a play-off spot rather than scrapping to avoid relegation.
It was a cold but largely dry night which suited both sides as they looked to play a quick, attacking style of rugby. This was a particularly important fixture as a Trinity win would allow them to leapfrog their opponents in the table. A Belvedere win would keep them clear of the relegation positions. It was the Anglesea Road outfit who got off to the brighter start and their early territory earned them a shot at goal which was easily converted to put the score at 3-0 to Belvedere.
From the ensuing kick-off, DUFC began to dominate. Patrick Finlay earned a penalty at the breakdown but Jack McDermott’s kick fell short. This did not stop the momentum of the students and referee Joy Neville continued to penalise the cynical Belvedere play at the breakdown. Trinity opted to kick for the corner on more than one occasion but frustratingly failed to translate these chances into scores. Eventually, after 25 minutes, McDermott attempted another kick at goal which split the sticks to draw the teams level.
The visitors then came back into the game when a beautiful skip pass from out-half Daniel Riordan allowed them to go over for the game’s first try in the left-hand corner. Trinity soon replied with a penalty and the score was 8-6 to Belvedere, who then upped their intensity just before half-time. This pressure led to the sin-binning of Trinity tight-head prop Andrew Keating. However, the scores remained the same at the break.
Despite being down to 14 men, DUFC started the second half very well and Belvedere had their own man sent to the sin-bin in the form of their hooker. McDermott knocked over the penalty to give the home side the lead for the first time. Their intensity did not drop and some stunning handling off the kick-off from backs and forwards alike allowed them to build field position once more. Snow arrived and Trinity kept it tight. A huge maul was collapsed by a Belvedere forward just short of his try line and he was duly sent to the bin by Neville. DUFC opted for the five metre scrum and after marching their opponents back, a penalty try was awarded. This was a fitting reward for Keating and Eric O’Sullivan, both of whom had been dominating their opposite number all game. McDermott converted to leave the score at 16-8 to Trinity.
Belvedere reacted quickly. Another wonderful pass from Riordan allowed their full-back to canter over on the right and after the conversion crept over off the post the score was 16-15. Finlay and flanker Brian Du Toit helped DUFC to regain the momentum with some great poaching at the breakdown. A nice backline move off a mid-field scrum allowed Michael Courtney to firmly hand-off his marker to break the line and then feed first year flyer Billy O’Hora who finished by the tree in the left-hand corner. With McDermott off the pitch, full back Brian Mollen, by no means a regular goal kicker, had to take the touchline conversion. Mollen is a natural footballer and absolutely nailed the kick which crucially put Trinity two scores ahead.
McDermott returned before the end of the game to convert one more penalty which put the score at 26-15. This is how it ended, DUFC crucially denying their rivals a losing bonus point. This was a hugely important win. Not only did it stop Trinity’s long losing run but also moved them from eighth to fifth in the table. They are now one place away from the semi-final play-off positions rather than being one place away from the relegation positions. The performance will also have pleased the well wrapped-up supporters who headed straight for the Pav post-match with a spring in their step and the players will look to build on this going forward.