Blackrock College caused a huge upset at Templeville Road on Saturday, putting five tries past an out-of-sorts St. Mary’s College side to record a 34-15 victory.
After a tight first half, Blackrock made all the running in the second period, outscoring the hosts by 20 points to nil and collecting a vital bonus point.
St. Mary's, who were strong favorites after a 39-15 hammering of Garryowen last weekend, started on a high note. The livewire Stephen Grissing cut through the 'Rock defence on the wing but was stopped outside the 22.
The match was wide open from the start but the home side were the early pacesetters. In the third minute, St. Mary's flanker Kevin Sheahan and number 8 Hugh Hogan made the big yards, carrying the ball well over the gain-line to bring play up to to five-metre line.
The Blackrock men soon hit back with their own passage of threatening play but knocked on just inside the St. Mary's 22.
A St. Mary's score was inevitable and after a brilliant counter attack involving centre Mark Sexton, winger Darren Hudson and scrum half Matthew D'Arcy, the platform was set up for prop Rob Sweeney to score under the posts for the first try. Out-half Gavin Dunne added the conversion to make it 7-0.
However, Blackrock hit back immediately and through a patient build-up, they chose to attack the fringes and they made their incision when scrum half Alan MacGinty spotted a gap in the defence and stole through to score and bring them back in contention.
Grissing made his second break of the match for St. Mary's which almost lead to a try but was stopped by a good covering tackle just short of the ‘Rock line.
Sweeney made it two tries for St. Mary's in the 26th minute after he struck with a powerful pick-and-go to burrow through the 'Rock line of defence.
But again, Andy Wood's charges responded astutely and scored a try only two minutes later when Rob Keogh passed to his centre partner Leon Ellison, who gave a nice loop pass inside to flanker Alex Dunlop and he had a clear run to the line. Keogh added the conversion to put 'Rock ahead at 14-12.
The visitors' out-half Darragh Fitzpatrick was sin-binned, seven minutes before half-time, for a dangerous tackle which allowed Dunne land a penalty and give St. Mary's a 15-14 buffer for the break.
Blackrock were handed a helpful slice of luck after two minutes of the second half when D'Arcy failed to clear MacGinty's delicate chip over the top and full-back Mark Scott-Lennon was on hand to pounce for the try as the ball bounced over the line.
Then, the St. Mary's defence were found wanting yet again when Scott-Lennon's chip through was collected by winger Jan-Simon Byrne who took a nice line and used his pace to evade the final tackle and dot down, giving 'Rock the bonus point after 48 minutes.
The assistant referees raised the flags for Keogh's conversion but the referee overruled the decision which left the scoreline at 24-15. Fitzpatrick took over kicking duties from Keogh and he converted a tricky penalty a few minutes later to increase Blackrock's lead to 27-15.
The visitors played patiently with possession and kept their opponents held back in their own half for large parts of the second period.
Wood's side struck for the fifth time when MacGinty spotted an overlap on the blindside and passed the ball to Fitzpatrick who popped it off to Simon Byrne and the young winger raced over for his second try of the afternoon.
St. Mary's pushed for a consolation try in the final ten minutes but 'Rock's defence held firm to prevent any line breaks.
Referee: Olly Hodges (IRFU)