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UCD Bag Bonus Point Against Dolphin

UCD Bag Bonus Point Against Dolphin

Third quarter tries from Alex Kelly and Eoin Joyce helped UCD stay top of Ulster Bank League Division 1A with a comfortable 22-7 triumph over Dolphin on Saturday.

The students had started the contest with great attacking intent and with a strong wind behind them, they were hoping to force Dolphin on the back foot during the early exchanges.

The Cork outfit were holding their own initially, but given the amount of possession that the hosts were enjoying in enemy territory, it seemed only a matter of time before UCD opened their account.

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This was precisely what happened nine minutes into the action, as a long spell of pressure eventually ended with prop Rory Harrison driving over to the left of the posts.

Flanker Conor Gilsenan had also gone close just before Harrison touched down, as persistence finally paid off for Bobby Byrne's young charges.

James Thornton was narrowly wide with his conversion from a tight angle, but he was given another opportunity at goal when referee Mark Patton awarded UCD a penalty.

Unfortunately, Thornton also came up short on this occasion which came as a huge relief to the visitors.

As the first half moved on, UCD continued to dominate in the possession stakes, but Dolphin were starting to settle into the proceedings, and centre Steve Hansel made an impression with some eye-catching runs from deep.

Indeed, on the stroke of half-time, Dolphin were applying enormous pressure towards the UCD line and looked odds-on to restore parity in time for the interval.

Tremendous defensive work kept them at bay this time, however, and even though Thornton was off target with a kick from inside his own half deep into stoppage time, UCD brought a 5-0 cushion into the second period nevertheless.

UCD would have felt somewhat disappointed that they were not further in front at the midway point, but they addressed this problem in the opening moments of the second period as an extended spell of play in the Dolphin half led to a try under the posts for outside centre Alex Kelly.

With out-half Thornton securing the bonuses on offer, the students were starting to develop a good-sized lead with Dolphin struggling to make headway with the breeze at their backs.

It also did not help their cause that the game was becoming scrappy in nature, and a series of stoppages were making it difficult for them to build momentum in the UCD half.

In addition to this, the home side were always capable of increasing the tempo of their play, and an excellent move up the right flank paved the way for number 8 Eoin Joyce to reach over for an unconverted try via a telling pass by full-back Andrew Boyle.

With 17 points now separating the teams with 25 minutes left, a UCD victory seemed inevitable and although Dolphin were doing their utmost to try and force their way back into the reckoning, they were left frustrated by the stern Students rearguard time and again.

Yet, Dolphin did eventually gain some degree of consolation as a fine move across the UCD line 10 minutes from the end yielded a well-deserved try courtesy of Rory Scannell. With replacement Barry Keeshan adding a superb conversion, the deficit was reduced to ten points.

There was never any danger that UCD would let this game slip away from them though – Dolphin were reduced to 12 players by the end thanks to a trio of yellow card offences – and following several attempts at securing the bonus point try, they finally crossed the whitewash five minutes into injury-time through second half replacement Adam Clarkin. 

Referee: Mark Patton (IRFU)