Blackrock College 41 Newbridge College 5
Blackrock College, champions on 69 occasions, will face Gonzaga College in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup final after they comfortably overcame Newbridge College at Energia Park in Donnybrook yesterday.
Coached by former Munster and Leicester Tigers star Johne Murphy, Newbridge were defending joint-champions after sharing the title with fellow Kildare outfit Clongowes Wood College at the end of the Covid-affected 2020 campaign. However, Blackrock's pace and power was ultimately too much for them in this game.
A haul of six tries – including a brace for flanker Inigo Cruise-O’Brien – left Justin Vanstone’s side with 36 points to spare and they will now lock horns with Gonzaga following the latter’s impressive success over St Mary’s College in the other semi-final.
After developing an attacking overlap down the right flank, winger Charlie Molony raced over to claim a deadlock-breaking try for 'Rock after six minutes.
Outhalf Zach Quirke supplied the extras in confident style and it wasn't long before the rampant Williamstown side increased their advantage. They once again created space inside the opposition half and following quick offloads by Eoghan Walsh and Ruben Moloney, inside centre Luke Kritzinger dived over for an unconverted try just shy of the 10-minute mark.
It was anticipated that additional scores would follow and a routine Quirke penalty put d even further daylight between the teams.
Newbridge looked set to open their account when 'Rock lost Paddy McCarthy and Liam Molony to yellow cards in the second quarter, but they couldn't capitalise despite a sustained period of attacking play.
Blackrock were restored to their full compliment before the first half had elapsed and there was enough time for Cruise-O’Brien to drive over and propel his side towards a convincing 22-0 interval cushion.
If Newbridge were to have any chance of forging a dramatic comeback, then they needed to draw first blood on the resumption. Instead, 'Rock extended their tally when powerful lock Tom Brigg rounded off a lineout maul move just two minutes after the restart.
While this effectively placed the outcome beyond doubt, Newbridge were determined to leave some kind of imprint on the proceedings. Like they had done in the latter stages of the opening period, they established territory deep inside the ’Rock half.
A breakthrough score may not have materialised for them on their previous visits to the ‘22’, but their persistence finally paid off on 46 minutes.
From a quick penalty close to the 'Rock posts, winger Todd Lawlor dived over in confident style. This unconverted effort only presented 'Bridge with a brief respite, however, as their Metropolitan counterparts immediately fired back with another try courtesy of replacement Conor Tonge.
Even though their spot in the forthcoming decider had long been assured, ’Rock were still hell-bent on having the final say in this one-sided contest. Openside Cruise-O’Brien made sure of this as he superbly chased down his own kick over the Newbridge defence to touch down in spectacular style on 64 minutes.
Scorers - Blackrock College: I Cruise-O'Brien 2 tries, C Molony, L Kritzinger, T Brigg, C Tonge try each, Z Quirke pen, 4 cons. Newbridge College: T Lawlor try.
BLACKROCK COLLEGE: R Moloney; C Molony, H Cooney, L Kritzinger, E Walsh; Z Quirke, O Coffey; M Holmes, G McCarthy, P McCarthy; T Brigg, A Mullan; L Molony, I Cruise-O'Brien, K Jackson. Replacements: M Aschenbrenner for C Molony, 21 mins; C Tonge for Mullan, 30; A Andersson for Brigg, 30-35; Andersson for P McCarthy, 45; J Angulo for L Molony, 50; L Molony for Jackson, 52; M Yarr for G McCarthy, T O'Riordan for L Molony, W Fitzgerald for Coffey, all 58.
NEWBRIDGE COLLEGE: C Bolton; T Lawlor, J Collins, T Waters, C Mangan; T Bohan, T Brophy; F Mahon, M Masterson, P Stapleton; M Barry, S Treacy; K Kelly, R McGroary, S Fitzgibbon. Replacements: D Downing for Mahon, B Bohan for Stapleton, both h-t; S Watson for Fitzgibbon, 45 mins; O Udell for Masterson, 50; S Davitt for Barry, 55; A Larkin Smithers for Bolton, 56; M Collins for Waters, 60-67; D Enright for Bohan, 68.
Referee: P Reidy (Leinster Rugby Referees).