Blackrock College survive major scare against St Gerard’s
James Tarrant lands drop goal late on to secure dramatic victory
St Gerard’s winger Morgan Freeley is tackled by Blackrock College outhalf James Tarrant during the Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup quarter-final at Donnybrook Stadium. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho
Blackrock College 19 St Gerard’s School 17
St Gerard’s came within a whisker of causing a sensational upset against Blackrock College in Sunday’s Leinster Senior Cup quarter-final at Donnybrook.
The Leinster League winners didn’t play like the long-shots everyone else views them to be.
They did far more with less in the first half, ripping into Blackrock in contact to cause uncharacteristic mistakes.
From there, the Bray school was patient in crabbing right on the back of their driving game for centre Oliver Haydock, involved twice, to ground the ball against the base of the post and converting for a 7-0 lead in the 15th minute.
It was just what the game needed, more specifically, what St Gerard’s needed.
The 50-50 contests were being won by St Gerard’s with Baxter into everything and prop Adam O’Reilly somehow nicking the ball from a maul.
The setback for ’Rock turned into a nightmare scenario when the deficit was doubled on the half hour.
The fundamentals of their game were imploding, an overthrown lineout taken at full tilt by the outstanding Ethan Baxter.
St Gerard’s were patient in their probing for centre Cormac Foley to catch the defence out by chipping over the top from no more than eight metres out and collecting for a stunning second try for Haydock to convert
Blackrock needed some encouragement and they found it either side of the break from outhalf James Tarrant’s penalty in the 33rd minute for not rolling away at a ruck, and his second to make it 14-6 in the 38th minute.
The erosion of the lead continued when Tarrant sliced the posts when Gerard’s fullback Max O’Reilly was binned for a deliberate knock-on in the 42nd minute
This was countered with typical St Gerard’s tenacity to force a penalty which Haydock struck with authority.
It was coming down to small moments, Tarrant’s restart going direct to touch, Baxter and Foley charging about like young men possessed and the ’Rock set-piece taking over the game.
Their lineout rolled for more than 20 metres to set up a sweep to the left where fullback Stephen Madigan strolled home.
He then converted from near the touchline to make it a one-point game in the 55th minute.
It all came down to Tarrant’s cool head as he backed-up into the pocket to land the decisive drop goal in the 62nd minute.
BLACKROCK COLLEGE: S Madigan; R Madigan, L Turner (capt), T Maher, H Donnelly; J Tarrant, R Barron; H O’Malley, S Molony, T Clarkson; S O’Brien, J Stapleton; J Dixon, J Loscher, M McGagh.
Replacements: G Jones for R Madigan (temp, 15 mins); C Duffy for O’Malley, L O’Reilly for Barron (both 43).
ST GERARD’S SCHOOL: M O’Reilly; P Opperman, O Haydock, C Foley, M Freeley; D O’Brien, J O’Caoimh; A O’Reilly, R Byrne, D Carroll; D Ahern, D McGovern; C Byrne, E Baxter (capt) R Wilson.
Replacements: T Cahill-Hannigan for Baxter (60 mins); C Diamond for O’Brien (62); E Baxter for Ahern (67).
Referee: B McNiece (Leinster Branch).