A late brace of tries ensured UCD maintained their winning start in this season’s All-Ireland League, as they got the better of hosts Old Wesley in Friday’s Division 2 derby at Donnybrook.
The small but vocal crowd at the Dublin 4 venue braved the wet conditions and were treated to a 'Friday Night Lights' spectacle with both sides showing great endeavour, particularly in the opening half.
The sides were deadlocked at 10-10 at the interval, with hooker David Doyle claiming a try for the Belfield students, while centre Alan Thompson touched down for the hosts.
Old Wesley opened up a seven-point lead inside five minutes of the restart, but UCD dug deep.
Tries from Doyle and scrum half Rob Shanley, allied to the place-kicking accuracy of replacement James Thornton late on, helped the visitors prevail in the final quarter.
Old Wesley made most of the early running, but with little reward on the scoreboard as the UCD defence stood firm.
The first scoring opportunity fell to Old Wesley full-back Alan Large in the tenth minute, but the 25-year-old pulled his penalty attempt.
UCD hit the front when former Gonzaga College pupil Doyle notched his opening try of the night, using turnover ball, secured by flanker Richie Bent, to race through the middle and show great pace to make the try-line from 70 metres out.
Out-half Niall Earls added the conversion, on the quarter-hour mark, but Old Wesley quickly burst into life with Thompson getting his side on the scoresheet, following a superb move.
The former Canada Under-19 international attacked the fringe defence off a ruck near the 22 and could not be stopped, scoring close to the posts.
Large slotted over the resulting conversion, and then landed a subsequent penalty to push his side 10-7 clear in the 24th minute.
Earls sent a penalty kick wide of the target in the next phase of play, but made amends before the break.
The 35th minute sin-binning of Thompson, after he failed to roll away after a tackle, saw UCD awarded a penalty which Earls converted to leave the sides level for the interval.
Old Wesley made an explosive start to the second half, and despite Large missing an early penalty kick, the hosts quickly made amends with their second try of the night.
Prop Tristan Goodbody made the breakthrough, four minutes after the resumption. He gathered a bouncing kick from winger Ross Barbour, brushed off the first tackler and sprinter over from 40 metres out.
Luck was not on the students' side, with centre David McSharry having a try ruled out for a forward pass.
But UCD bounced back superbly and a penalty kick from Thornton cut the gap to four points, with 26 minutes left on the clock.
Defences were on top for a brief period before UCD quickly pounced on some loose defending from Old Wesley for Doyle to cross the whitewash in the 68th minute.
Doyle's try edged College back in front at 20-17, Thornton supplying the conversion for a 20-17 buffer.
And they put the seal on their third successive league win, courtesy of a 72nd minute try from the busy Shanley who dummied off the back of a ruck and dived over to the right of the posts.
Thornton's conversion put 10 points between the sides and Old Wesley had no response, as their search for a maiden victory in this season's campaign continues.
Referee: Barrie O'Connell (IRFU)