Dublin University Football Club (DUFC) went into yesterday’s clash with Lansdowne hoping to cap off what has been a superb calendar year of Ulster Bank League rugby with a statement victory over Lansdowne, but in treacherous conditions they lost out 17-6 against the champions.
After a marvellous win away to Clontarf last week, the hosts went into this weekend’s encounter with their tails very much up, but the weather had a big impact on the game from the outset. Heavy rain rendered almost impossible the open, free-flowing rugby that has become Trinity’s calling card. The first half started in this fashion, with a number of scrums in the first 10 minutes due to poor handling.
Trinity had the first real opportunity of the game, when James Fennelly backed Lansdowne deep into their own 22 with a well-placed penalty. Trinity won the lineout and with advantage at his back Fennelly directed a looping crossfield kick towards the other wing. Lansdowne, though, dealt with it well and DUFC had to settle for another kick to the corner. The attack ultimately came to nothing after solid and aggressive defending from Lansdowne. This would be a sign of what was to come.
Trinity continued to put pressure on the Lansdowne tryline but never really looked like they would go over for a try. The teams were closely matched and it was becoming increasingly clear that the game would come down to one mistake or one moment of magic.
That moment came for Lansdowne in the 28nd minute, an unconverted try ensuing after a powerful maul. DUFC, needing to gather themselves, managed to do so and secured some territory from the restart. After a period of sustained pressure on the Lansdowne line, DUFC won a penalty in front of the posts, which Fennelly duly slotted over to put two points between the teams.
Fennelly, who has been in inspired form – particularly with the boot – this season, went for the posts from 50 metres after DUFC won a penalty off a scrum, clearly confident that with the wind in his favour he could hit the target. This confidence, though, was misplaced, as he failed to connect properly with the ball and it dropped short. Lansdowne went into the second half 5-3 up.
Trinity started the second half well. Five minutes in Fennelly kicked his second penalty of the game, putting the home side in front. Another five minutes, however, and later this lead had been cancelled out by another Lansdowne try from short range, putting DUFC six points down.
Trinity stuck to their task and put some pressure on the Lansdowne line but they did not have a lot of success. Lansdowne were aggressive at the breakdown, slowing the ball down and not allowing the hosts to play the fast-paced, expansive rugby they have demonstrated in previous games.
Lansdowne registered a third try before the game’s end, and DUFC – who will feel unlucky not to have grabbed even a losing bonus point – drop to fifth, outside the playoff spots. Lansdowne stay second with Cork Constitution sitting pretty at the league’s summit. Tony Smeeth’s players will rest themselves over the Christmas break and return reinvigorated for another crack at the playoffs.