Jake Swaine landed a late kick to guide Terenure College past Garryowen last time out and he repeated the trick on Friday night as his 81st-minute conversion saw ‘Nure overhaul UCD on a 20-18 scoreline at Belfield.
It was cruel finish for the students who were leading 18-6 with little over ten minutes remaining. Tries from winger Tom Fletcher and influential lock Gavin Thornbury had them in an enviable position, but Terenure came storming back – just as they did in last November's meeting at the same venue.
Captain James O'Neill got over on the end of a close-in maul for a galvanising 'Nure score which Swaine converted. The latter's wing colleague James O'Donoghue then glided down the left and got over by the posts for the levelling try. Jake Swaine held his nerve to add the extras in decisive fashion.
UCD made the brighter start and almost scored in the first minute when they engineered a two-on-one from a cross-field kick only to drop the scoring pass.
That was to be the theme for the first quarter, with Noel McNamara's youngsters holding nearly all the possession and territory, but despite some great handling in midfield they could not make the final pass stick. A Bobby Holland penalty in the 15th minute did get them off the mark.
Terenure had much the better of the second quarter. Young winger Swaine nearly scored a try for the ages, as good hands put him into space. He kicked ahead and attempted to chip the ball into his hands at full pace only to see it slip away as he crossed the line.
Much like UCD, the visitors failed to make the most of their field position, but ironically it was a spilled pass that saw them get on the scoreboard. A push on Ian Hanly, as he went to collect the loose ball, allowed former College out-half James Thornton to split the posts from 45 metres out.
With barely a minute left in the first half half, UCD managed to collect the restart and after huge pressure, an off-the-ball scuffle saw Terenure flanker Robert Duke and UCD winger Barry Daly sent to the sin-bin. Holland stepped up to knock over his second successful penalty to made it 6-3 to the home side at the break.
The second period followed much the same pattern as the end of the first, with Terenure controlling most of the possession and territory, and UCD counter-punching from the visitors' errors. The students scored a classic try in the 57th minute, working well-won lineout ball out wide where Fletcher grubbered ahead, collected the bouncing ball and stepped inside to score.
The conversion was missed and 'Nure swiftly hit back, with Swaine stepping the last defender beautifully and kicking ahead to force a lineout. The pressure led to a penalty and Thornton snuck his kick inside the left hand post for 11-6.
James Blaney's men kept the pressure going, with a perfectly-timed run from replacement John Dever putting Kyle McCoy into space, but a wonderful cover tackle halted his progress. Again Dever took it up, but was adjudged to have been held up. The five-metre scrum did not result in a score, and UCD cleared with a penalty to halfway.
Another penalty was kicked to touch, and a scrappy lineout led to an even scrappier pass which wrong-footed the Terenure defence to allow Leinster prospect Thornbury power over from close range. With Holland's conversion making it 18-6, it looked like game over.
Despite some untimely injuries with back rower Eoin Joyce forced to play on the wing, Terenure were quick to respond again.
An attacking lineout went to the back, with McCoy collecting and with Joyce adding his bulk to the maul, openside and skipper O'Neill was able to dot down. With Thornton off, Swaine took over the kicking duties and added the extras for an 18-13 scoreline.
From the restart, 'Nure won a lineout just inside their half, and duly took some good lines to get over the gain-line and spread player wide. O'Donoghue came up into the line from full back, and with Joyce holding his width like a seasoned winger, sold a dummy and set off down the touchline. He cut inside the cover and dotted down beside the posts, and the ice-cool Swaine tagged on the all-important conversion.
It was a disappointing conclusion for a tireless UCD side whose last-ditch tackling and excellent rucking and counter-rucking made it a tough night for 'Nure. However, strong performances from Oisin Heffernan, McCoy, Joyce, Harrison Brewer and Swaine ultimately got the visitors over the finish line.
Referee: Andy Brace (IRFU)