Roscrea and Newbridge must do it all again after Donnybrook stalemate
Keith Kavanagh’s second-half try squares things up in senior semi-final
Newbride’s Jake Howlett is tackled by Tim Foley of Cistercian College Roscrea during the Leinster Schools Senior Cup semi-final at Donnybrook. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Cistercians College, Roscrea 8 Newbridge College 8
Roscrea’s relentless lineout drive already removed Blackrock from the Leinster Schools Senior Cup. It saved them here.
Basic rugby performed by these gargantuan north Tipperary forwards, the maul was formed as early as the third minute.
Actually, they were bluffing. Eoghan Maher flung to a soaring Dan Trayers but the big number eight, already on Connacht’s radar, slipped a pass to scrumhalf Keith Kavanagh who quickly fed Sean Kilgallen.
The left wing, literally, slipped as Newbridge defenders gobbled him whole.
Still, by the eighth minute of play they had employed their primary weapon five times. To no avail.
Instead, Newbridge had themselves a valuable 5-0 lead thanks to a try finished off by Jake Howlett.
The centre was one of several representative three-quarters on view but the teenager who made the most impact was Howlett’s midfield partner Jimmy O’Brien.
The Newbridge captain had a stunningly effective game. O’Brien sliced through a gap before freeing Howlett, who completed the 70-metre reversal that ruthlessly punished an overthrown lineout.
Colm Doyle missed the conversion, under the uprights, but he atoned with a more difficult place kick on 15 minutes after Trayers was adjudged to have illegally slowed clean possession.
This was a feature of the contest. Gary Conway refereed to the letter of the law when it came to attacking forwards sealing off ball, and most he saw, but catching every single indiscretion in such a hectic environment was impossible.
Anyway, Newbridge disappeared into the Wesley club house with an 8-0 lead from just two forays down field. Credit goes to halfbacks Doyle and Tim Murphy for keeping the pressure on. Secondrow Brian Larkin was also putting in a serious shift.
Every Newbridge defender needed to be technically sound in order to put Trayers and prop Dylan Murphy to ground before either could build up a head of steam.
Murphy did some muscular defensive work of his own to deny what seemed a second Newbridge try.
Doyle missed his third shot at goal before the break to ensure Tim Foley’s penalty eight minutes into the second half finally reward a procession of heavies being slingshot towards the Newbridge line.
Amidst the suffocating wrestling match, O’Brien and Howlett continued to combine and break the line as both threatened to untie this knotted affair. On and on it went. The most notable happening was the bodies strewn across the artificial grass. Maybe the constancy created by the 4G surface contributes to the increased number of cramping players.
Maybe it’s just their enormous endeavour.
Anyway, much like the Newbridge try, Roscrea’s response came from an end to end turnover. It happened on 52 minutes when Howlett’s offload ended up in Alan Tynan’s grasp. A low grubber kick forced retreating winger Colm Stapleton to nudge the ball into touch.
Up cranked Roscrea’s maul once again as Maher flung to a soaring Trayers. It was repelled twice before Kavanagh sneaked over. Foley’s touchline conversion was wide. He had another long-range penalty for victory before Joe Murphy’s try was denied when his foot scraped the touchline.
But it was Newbridge pounding Roscrea’s line at the finish. Nobody dropped into the pocket as Conway’s whistle, for another supporting forward crashing to earth, meant a replay is required to discover who meets Belvedere College on St Patrick’s Day.
Next Monday back in Donnybrook is the likely window.
Scoring sequence – 5 mins: J Howlett try, 0-5; 16 mins: C Doyle pen, 0-8. Half-time. 44 mins: T Foley pen, 3-8; 53 mins: K Kavanagh try, 8-8.
Replacements: J Murphy for S Kilgallen, B Diffley for S Meagher (both 50 mins), P Gavin for A Bronwe (59 mins), K Caher for M Keane (64 mins), P O’Shea for R Wharton (70 mins).
Referee: G Conway (Leinster).