After coming out on the losing side of a number of tight games, Blackrock College head coach Andy Wood felt that his team’s persistence was finally rewarded with a convincing 34-15 victory over St. Mary’s College on Saturday.
Andy Wood had plenty of reasons to be happy, not least of which was Blackrock’s propensity to execute their chances as he witnessed his side run five tries past a highly-regarded St. Mary’s outfit.
Although St. Mary’s got off to a brighter start and looked to be well in the ascendancy throughout the opening exchanges at Templeville Road, Blackrock plugged away and eventually took control of proceedings.
Speaking after the match, Wood told IrishRugby.ie: “I’ve been saying this for a couple of weeks, our table position doesn’t reflect the effort and the quality that we have here.
“Coming here was never going to be an easy task. But we got a bit of luck and took advantage of it.
“It’s a tough one for the lads because they’re putting in the effort and not getting results. But I’ve been stressing that this kind of performance has been coming for us.”
The first half was a tit-for-tat affair with Connacht prop Rob Sweeney scoring two tries for St. Mary’s. However, on each occasion ‘Rock responded with a try of their own, one coming from young scrum half Alan MacGinty and the other from flanker Alex Dunlop.
Gavin Dunne slotted a penalty seven minutes before half-time to give St. Mary’s a 15-14 lead going into the break.
In the second half, Blackrock crossed the try-line three times in the space of 15 minutes to leave the hosts with a mountain to climb. Full-back Mark Scott-Lennon went over early on, while lively winger Jan-Simon Byrne picked up a brace of tries.
St. Mary’s pushed for a consolation try but could not break down a sturdy ‘Rock defence.
“In the second half, defensively we were really tight, you could see the organisation there and once we got the lead the confidence stuck with them,” added Wood.
“I’m just pleased for the effort and the energy finally paying off and for once we’re on the right side of the scoreboard and to come here and get five tries is very pleasing.
“I think that Jan-Simon Byrne put in a huge effort, I think Alan MacGinty at scrum half marshalled the show very well but we played well across the board and everyone defended well.”
The bonus point victory sees Wood’s charges leapfrog Dolphin and Shannon into fifth place in the table and gives them a comfortable buffer from the relegation zone coming into the final two games of the season.
“Looking back on the season, you could think that if a couple of bounces went our way in different games it could have been a completely different story.
“For next season, it’s a matter of building these young guys coming through. We’re not going to be able to rely on the Leinster guys who are fantastic clubmen and are keen to put on the blue and white.
“There’s an undoubted pool of quality there in the young guys coming through for next year and they have to be integrated as quickly as possible.”
St. Mary’s College boss Ciaran Potts, although disappointed, was quick to praise Blackrock for their approach to the game.
“I think ‘Rock got their game-plan right, they starved us of a lot of first phase possession and we never really got a chance to get going on the front foot,” he said.
“We’ve got two tough games to finish against Cork Constitution and Old Belvedere, but they’re all tough in this league.”
Fourth-placed Young Munster beat Shannon 16-3 on Saturday to put more pressure on St. Mary’s above them.
With only two points separating the teams, chances are that things will go right down to the wire for that third play-off spot.
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