The AIB League fixture planners could not have scripted it better. With just one round of matches to go, there are only three points separating the top seven sides in Division One.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION ONE: Saturday, April 11
ST. MARY’S COLLEGE 24 UCD 17, Templeville Road
Scorers: St. Mary’s College: Tries: Conor McPhillips 2, Shaun McCarthy, Mark Sexton; Cons: Shaun McCarthy 2
UCD: Tries: Noel Reid, John Anthony Lee, Conor Geoghegan; Con: Ian McKinley
And St Mary’s College are one of them. The Peter Smyth and Ciaran Potts-coached side are sixth in the table and still pushing for a semi-final berth, just a point behind leaders Cork Constitution.
The damage was done in the first half of this Dublin derby at Templeville Road as Mary’s turned around with a 17-5 buffer thanks to tries from Conor McPhillips, Shaun McCarthy and Mark Sexton.
Backs coach and out-half McCarthy kicked the match-winning penalty against Young Munster last week and the Australian was a pivotal figure again against the students.
UCD started well and their pack built up a head of steam before full-back Noel Reid stretched over for an unconverted try out wide.
However, former Connacht winger McPhillips steadied the Mary’s ship with a well-constructed try.
McCarthy added the conversion and crossed the whitewash himself before centre Mark Sexton, brother of Leinster’s Jonathan, grabbed Mary’s third.
The bonus point was within Mary’s grasp, soon after the restart, when the fleet-footed McPhillips scampered over for his second try, once again converted by McCarthy.
But UCD, who face a relegation showdown with Young Munster next weekend, salvaged a vital losing bonus point when prop John Anthony Lee and hooker Conor Geoghegan helped themselves to late tries.
Mary’s did take their foot off the pedal but ‘College deserve credit for the way in which they bounced back.
Lee’s effort was converted by Ian McKinley, who was unfortunate not to add the extras to Geoghegan’s score.
Indeed, Mary’s ended the game with only 13 players on the pitch as both Hugh Hogan and David Kilbride were sent to the sin-bin in quick succession.
They will not be able to afford the same loss of discipline away to Terenure in seven days’ time.