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Out-Half Byrne Stars As UCD Beat Lansdowne

Out-Half Byrne Stars As UCD Beat Lansdowne

Some of UCD’s talented youngsters got one over on Mike Ruddock, their former Ireland Under-20 head coach, as his Lansdowne side fell to a 19-10 defeat in Ulster Bank League Division 1A.

UCD out-half Ross Byrne, who got game-time in the British & Irish Cup recently, was brilliant on both sides of the ball, scoring a try and three penalties at one end and denying Scott Deasy a try at the other.

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Four points separated the teams in the Division 1A table before kick-off on the Aviva Stadium's back pitch and the blustery conditions favoured UCD in the first half.

UCD started the brighter and took advantage of indiscipline at the breakdown, with a quick tap-and-go a sign of their intent early on. Byrne fired them ahead in the fourth minute, splitting the posts despite a swirling wind.

Shortly afterwards Lansdowne were awarded a penalty after UCD's front row went down under pressure in a scrum. Deasy's kick from 35 metres dropped short, however, and UCD countered immediately.

Byrne pinned Lansdowne back inside their half with a precise kick. He got the chance to double their lead from wide on the left but his effort hit the left hand post.

But, just as Lansdowne eventually cleared, winger Cian Kelleher was offside in the chase and he pulled out of tackling Peadar Timmins outside the 22, allowing the young flanker to run in for a 13th minute try in the left corner. Byrne's conversion attempt came back off an upright as UCD led 8-0. 

Mounting their response, Lansdowne threatened with Kelleher, full-back Conor McKeon and centre Tom Farrell performing well but handling errors let them down in the final third.

When Kelleher knocked on 18 minutes in, the Lansdowne scrum turned the ball over, driving the UCD scrum back and Aaron Conneely picking off the back to drive forward. That launched a three-minute attacking spell with the Lansdowne forwards driving towards the try-line and UCD's defence brilliantly holding them at bay.

When the experienced Deasy looked like getting over in the right corner, an incredible recovery tackle from his opposite number Byrne forced a relieving turnover. 

At the other end, Byrne saw his next penalty attempt drift wide but moments later, indiscipline gave him another opportunity which he successfully converted for an 11-0 lead on 28 minutes.

Deasy learned from his missed kick as Lansdowne went for the corner when College were once more penalised at the scrum. A superb driving maul following the lineout saw referee Leo Colgan award a penalty try to Mike Ruddock's men as UCD number 8 Shane Grannell was sin-binned for pulling down the maul.

Deasy added the conversion but Lansdowne were soon reduced to 14 men when centre Ferdia Doherty was sin-binned and Byrne landed another three-pointer to make it 14-7 at the interval.

Ireland Under-20 centre Garry Ringrose was introduced for the start of the second period and he made a real difference for UCD, adding a much-needed spark in difficult conditions.

Nonetheless, it was Deasy who narrowed the gap within a minute with of the restart with a penalty when the students were penalised for not releasing at the breakdown.

Crossing gave McKeon, another Ireland U-20 international on show, an opportunity to make it a one-point game from the left touchline but the cross-field wind did not bring the ball back in and it went inches wide of the right upright.

Lansdowne should have taken advantage when former Munster player Deasy was held up short after a pick and go effort, 10 minutes into the second half. It followed three successive penalties against UCD and each time the home side went for the scrum.

Hooker James Tracy was sin-binned for UCD after the third penalty but as Lansdowne drove forward, the ball squirted out the back and UCD managed to hack clear. 

Once Bobby Byrne's young side survived, they had the attacking spark to match to victory. Sam Coghlan Murray (pictured above) was lightning quick in some of his breaks and unfortunate not to get a try of his own.

On the hour mark, Ross Byrne saw another place-kick strike the upright and the warning signs were there for Lansdowne. A forward pass stopped Ringrose in his tracks as his pace would have seen him clean through.

But the visitors did not have to wait long to finish off their opponents. The move of the game led to UCD's second try, with Andrew Boyle setting Ringrose away and the replacement's delightful one-handed offload in the tackle saw the attack remain alive. The ball was moved wide and, with a penalty advantage, Ross Byrne was fed by Tracy to touch down for a 19-10 advantage.

The impressive out-half saw his conversion drift wide but on a dreadful day weather wise, Byrne's game management and kicking saw UCD join third-placed Lansdowne on 14 points in the league table.

Referee: Leo Colgan (IRFU)