Elwood stings like the wind


A BITING wind running through the spooky and largely empty corridors of rugby's HQ did little to take the heat out of a stinging Lansdowne attack on Saturday.

While Instonians managed to score two tries and for some 15 minutes after the break consigned Lansdowne to some safety measures, there was rarely a moment when the home side looked like seriously stuttering.

The final 47-10 margin, a tally surpassed only by Cork Constitution so far this season in Division One, was testament to the patience and confidence of a side currently riding comfortably on the top of the table along with St Mary's. Along with a pack who supplied trolley loads of ball and a backline who ran with invention and purpose, they left Instonians to respond only in brief flourishes.

It was from the 57th minute and leading 18-5 that Lansdowne really let rip. Instonians had just made their most sustained bid to enter the game and it had failed.

In the first half, the irrepressible Kurt McQuilkin's break from just outside the Instonians 25 had set up Michael Kearin for a 17th minute try while Eric Elwood's 20-yard run from inside his own half had also presented Rody Corrigan with the chance to gallop over again in the 29th minute.

Adding two Elwood penalties and a conversion, Lansdowne went into the turn 18-5 ahead with the worry of little other than Kearin's injury, which saw him stretchered off the pitch on the blow of half time. When the lively winger failed to rise after a challenge, thoughts of Shannon away on January 11th must certainly have entered coach Donal Spring's mind. It was subsequently confirmed that Kearin broke both the bones (tibia and fibula) between his ankle and knee. After an operation yesterday a plate was inserted and it is now highly unlikely that he will play again this season.

At that stage of the match, Innes Gray's earlier score had faded in memory. Lansdowne weathered the brief Belfast backlash before unleashing an infinitely more punishing offensive with Bobby McCoy (one of the quickest hookers around), Elwood, Angus McKeen and McQuilkin bringing to six the number of Lansdowne players who crossed the line. Elwood's try, one entirely of his own making, particularly thrilled the attendance as he broke through the heart of the cover and won the race for the line right under the posts.

In tandem, Elwood's target-smart boot was off only once in that phase as he landed another three conversions and a penalty before Gray ran in again for a pleasing personal contribution but nothing that could change the nature of a hopelessly one-sided game. Confidence is building certainly for Lansdowne, a very well balanced team and one that could improve still further.