There were home victories for Dublin University, Lansdowne and UCD today in Leinster’s top tier of the Energia Community Series. Meanwhile, in Conference 2, Malahide opened their win account away to Enniscorthy.
Former Ireland Under-20 international Rob Russell racked up 23 points as Dublin University edged out Naas 28-22 in an exciting Energia Community Series clash at College Park.
Johne Murphy’s Naas held the lead on three separate occasions, but Trinity maintained their winning start to Leinster Conference 1 thanks to final quarter scores from Russell (penalty) and Luis Faria (try).
Tries from Bryan Croke and Paul Monahan had the visitors leading 17-11 at half-time with full-back Russell scoring Trinity’s points. He bagged his second try in the 55th minute, following up on some nifty work by his back-three colleague Ronan Quinn who sidestepped and slipped away from three defenders.
Scrum half Tim Murphy finished off a slick midfield break after back rowers Paulie Tolofua and Ryan Casey had picked open the defence during the build-up. That moved Naas back in front at 22-18, only for a third Russell penalty to make it a one-point game.
Russell and Liam McMahon then spearheaded a defence-splitting surge from inside the hosts’ own half to set up centre Faria’s try, before Trinity, who lost replacement Anthony Ryan to the sin bin, survived a pulsating final push from Naas.
A fantastic second half fight-back by Old Wesley fell just short as Lansdowne held on to win their opening Community Series game 29-27 on home soil.
The heavyweight Lansdowne pack was in control before the break, moving Mark McHugh’s men into a 24-9 lead with debutant hooker Paddy Nixon driving over for two tries.
Scrum half James Kenny and number 8 Dan Kenny also crossed the whitewash, the former sniping over after just eight minutes. But Morgan Lennon’s half-time team talk worked a treat for a Wesley side that had taken down UCD in the first round.
Despite the setback of tighthead Cronan Gleeson limping off injured, Wesley fought back brilliantly on the Aviva Stadium’s back pitch. Their back row really grew in influence, Alastair Hoban squeezing over in the right corner for an early second-half try.
Fellow flanker Luke Thompson swarmed over the breakdown for a series of hard-earned turnovers, and with Tom Kiersey landing his fourth penalty goal in overcast conditions, Lansdowne’s lead was suddenly reduced to just seven points – 24-17.
Then, with Lansdowne replacement Ed O’Keeffe in the sin bin, Wesley out-half Kiersey offloaded neatly out of a tackle for full-back Michael Clune to touch down. Josh Miller missed the conversion at 24-22, though, and Lansdowne’s impressive maul dug out a vital 74th-minute try for reserve hooker Henry Godson.
Wesley had the final say with a late third try of their own, backs and forwards combining in a rolling maul which ended with hooker Ben Burns plunging over. Nonetheless, the tricky levelling conversion was off target from Miller, leaving Lansdowne with maximum points and Wesley with a losing bonus.
Replacement Dan O’Donovan grabbed a decisive 66th-minute try to earn UCD’s opening win of the campaign. They triumphed 22-15 at home to local rivals Old Belvedere, with Richie Bergin burrowing over for an opening 22nd-minute try before Jamie Murphy finished past James McKeown in the right corner.
McKeown ran in a terrific 65-metre intercept try in response for Belvedere, who were back level on the hour mark thanks to a brilliant solo score from fit-again centre David Butler. He jinked away from four UCD defenders to score beside the posts and give Justin Leonard a simple conversion for 15-all.
UCD had more in the tank, though, and following a couple of piercing half-breaks from Andy Marks, O’Donovan reacted quickest to pick from a ruck and crash over. James Tarrant converted and it was O’Donovan who won a key penalty at the breakdown to keep ‘Belvo out of scoring range late on.
Malahide won at the the first attempt in Leinster Conference 2, coming away from Alcast Park with a 29-15 victory over Enniscorthy. A second-half red card for a high tackle by centre Adam Kennedy failed to derail Brendan Guilfoyle’s charges.
Darragh Sweeney ran in an intercept try to add to earlier Jack Foley and Dan Hayes scores, giving the Dubliners a 19-3 interval lead. Enniscorthy came back with tries from Timmy Morrissey and Richard Dunne, but Foley completed his brace and out-half David O’Halloran made it a five-try haul for Malahide.
The battle of the former Division 2B promotion rivals ended in a hard-fought 25-18 home win for MU Barnhall against Greystones. Trailing 15-13 at the break, the Blue Bulls ran out bonus point winners thanks to tries from Adam Chester, Conor Lacey and Cathal Duff (2).
Wanderers had too much firepower for Community Series debutants Tullamore, with Eoin Sheriff’s Chaps claiming a 39-0 bonus point success to move to the top of the Conference 2 table.
Meanwhile, following the correct application relating to Covid-19 guidelines, two second round fixtures in Leinster were cancelled – Terenure College v St. Mary’s College and Skerries v Blackrock College. The scores are recorded as 0-0 and both teams awarded two points.
ENERGIA COMMUNITY SERIES – SECOND ROUND RESULTS:
LEINSTER CONFERENCE 1:
Dublin University 28 Naas 22, College Park
Lansdowne 29 Old Wesley 27, Aviva Stadium back pitch
UCD 22 Old Belvedere 15, Belfield Bowl
Terenure College v St. Mary’s College, Lakelands Park (Match cancelled – 0-0. Both teams are awarded two points)
Clontarf – Bye
LEINSTER CONFERENCE 2:
Enniscorthy 15 Malahide 29, Alcast Park
MU Barnhall 25 Greystones 18, Parsonstown
Skerries v Blackrock College, Holmpatrick (Match cancelled – 0-0. Both teams are awarded two points)
Wanderers 39 Tullamore 0, Merrion Road
Navan – Bye